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Full text of "Americans_In_Glasshouses"

AMERICA!* 

in 
GLASSHOUSES 

by Leslie James; 

This is a book to end all books about 
America an impudent, hilarious 
"portrait 11 of America snapped through 
a broken lens, reflecting the out-of-focus 
vision of Englishmen who believe all 
they hear about America. 

Readers will lose their heads over 
this book either laughing them off, or 
blowing their tops off. As the 7/mes 
Literary Supplement (London) expressed 
it when the book exploded over England: 

"Europeans who sum up America 
and the Americans either in slogans or 
formulas deserve this book. It is an 
extremely tart and funny rejoinder to 
vulgar errors about America, whether 
they are held on one side of the water 
or the other. It is as if Mark Twain, 
Mr. Dooley, Hymie Kaplan, and the 
Marx Brothers had cooperated to write 
an academic thesis on such themes as 
the tendency towards overproduction in 
private American capitalism or sexual 
behaviour in America. 

"The fake footnotes and the statis 
tical tables are the funnier for their 
deadpan style. A book that starts seri- 
oi^ to discuss why, for instance, #tle 
female neckline In American films must 
be higher than in the British, and then 
explodes uproariously into ps^id- 
anthropological explanations, is manna 
4eaventothereyiewer of ponder- 





Every page is good for a laugh . . . 
The book is one to have, read and 
reread." 



PUBLIC LIBRARY 




a oaaa, 



917.3 J282 511UOGU 

Jaraes 

Americans in glasshouses* 



917.3 J282 

James 02.00 

Americans in glasshouses. 




Kansas city public library 



kansas city, missouri 



Books will be issued only 

on presentation of library card. 
Please report lost cards and 

change of residence promptly. 
Card holders are responsible for 

all books, records, films, pictures 
or other library materials 
checked out on their cards. 



DATE DUE 



-UN 



Vi SEP 5 



20 JU/y 
R JUL 1 



*a 



LESLIE JAMES 



Americans 



in 



Glasshouses 




HENRY SCHUMAN * NEW YORK 



First published in 1950 

All rights reserved. 
Copyright 2951 by Henry Schuman, 

Manufactured, in -the United, States 
by H. Wolff, New York 



-7 "2 

>,^ 

^^ 




CONTENTS 



I. THE WAY THEY ARE 1 

II. THE WAY THEY WORK 21 

III. THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 54 

IV. THE WAY THEY RELAX 79 
V. THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 111 

VI. THE AMERICAN WAY AND THE 

WORLD S 141 



ISAS CUT (MUO PUBLIC 

a -- v 




FOREWORD 



This book has been written to standardize, once and for 
all, the diverse impressions about America in European 
minds for the confusion which exists abroad about 
America is equalled only by the confusion in America 
itself. 

Only if Europeans especially the English have a 
real understanding of America, will they be able to 
teach Americans to conduct themselves in the manner 
English gentlemen thought other Englishmen should 
conduct themselves, when England was the leading 
Power in the world. 



THE WAY THEY ARE 



ONE has only to observe the American tourist s reluc 
tance to ride with dignity and unconcern one or two 
stops beyond his bus-ticket to realize that Americans 
have very primitive personalities indeed. 

It is plain from what one sees of Americans in England 
that there will be no success at reforming America along 
European lines until one knows what it is, deep down in 
the psychological make-up of the American, that makes 
him click . . . click . . . click all day, when he might 
be talking about the weather, waiting to get a telephone 
installed, and generally living life in the English way, in 
stead of photographing it from beneath a broad- 
brimmed hat. 

The American one sees in England is rude without 
the palliative of being predictably, consistently rude* He 
is savage about Punch but sighs sentimental apprecia 
tions about the draughty old village church which every 

3 



^ AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

resident takes for granted. He is alarmingly and unfor 
givably quick to concur after one has summoned all one s 
modesty and self-depreciation to say, charmingly, "I 
expect you find England a bit bare." He is irritated by 
persons who seem interested in him only because he is 
an American, and even more irritated by any suggestion 
that he seems in any way un-American. 

Unlike Britons, Americans behave differently abroad 
from the way they do at home. When we examine the 
behaviour of Americans in the United States with the 
clinical and cold detachment most British analysts have 
employed in generalising about the American person 
ality, we find an assortment of eccentric behaviour that 
is, to say the least, 1 un-British. 

First of all, Americans move. They always seem to be 
racing against time. They work at a mad pace. They bolt 
their food. Instead of drinking to light a fire inside 
them, they drink as if they were putting one out. The 
Englishman, proceeding through life at a sophisticated 
glacial pace, wonders what it is that impels, compels and 
propels Americans to live more like jumping beans than 
men. 

The beginning of the answer is that Americans have 
no past, no tradition, no class system and no planners 2 to 

1 And the most. 

2 The effects of the lack of planners in America are more 
fully discussed below. (See Planners, Ruin of America Due 
to Lack of.) 



THE WAY THEY ARE 5 

tell them in advance what they are and how they ought 
to behave. They cannot, for example, live long lives of 
polite understatement like the British, simply because 
"it has always been done." In America, nothing has al 
ways been done. 3 

Equally unhelpful to the American who wants to know 
how to behave is the lack of a well-defined class-system. 
Hence the prevalence in America of that old-fashioned 
philosophy of the pre-planning age, which holds that 
all are equal. The American believes at birth that he 
can rise to be anything. This means that he can count 
definitely on nothing. He cannot mould himself from 
childhood to fit the behaviour-requirements that his 
future class or occupational position will impose on 
him. 4 

The American is so emotionally preoccupied with de 
ciding how to live his life that he cannot achieve the 



3 For a notable exception, see later in this chapter, Sex in 
America, Practice of. 

4 Compare this with Britain, where children who will be 
come lawyers are trained to talk elegantly on subjects they 
don t know about; while those who will become Civil Serv 
ants are taught to elegantly not talk about things they do 
know about; where middle-class girls are trained to memo 
rize the names, localities and interiors of places of fashion 
they will never enter; and where children who will become 
advanced intellectuals are trained to read (and write) so 
that they automatically skip figures. 



6 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

spontaneity and poise of the Englishman who (of 
course) need never consider the question. 5 

Since there is nothing to tell him how to behave, the 
American is always unsure whether he has a personality 
at all. At the core, he is never sure whether he is some 
one. His entire life is spent seeking reassurance on this 
point. 

There are many evidences of this fact in American 
behaviour. Americans like to receive letters, for exam 
ple, particularly in the morning, since receiving a letter 
addressed to them makes them think they really are 
someone. The clinching piece of evidence, however, is 
that Americans like to eat. Eating serves a clear-cut 
function in America. Americans would feel unhuman if 
they did not eat. By putting a large piece of steak in his 
mouth, the American becomes convinced that he is 
really alive. 6 The Briton who never questions his exist 
ence as long as he follows tradition or the rules of class 
behaviour does not need, like, or get steak. 7 

Their gnawing doubts whether they "are anybody" 

5 The superiority of the British in this and all other respects 
is easily (and frequently) proved by comparing the average 
American factory worker with the average honours graduate 
of Eton and Oxford. The average American never seems 
to possess the culture and poise of the British social and 
intellectual 61ite. 

6 In the South, and other poor regions of America, Coca- 
Cola is a substitute for food. 

7 That is one reason why Britain can afford rationing, and 
Americans cannot. 



THE WAY THEY ARE 7 

thus lie at the root of the personality problems of Amer 
icans, At the level of surface behaviour, this results in 
that distinctively American way of life under which 
Americans feel they are competing with every other 
American. This comes about because the American 
needs recognition from others before he can feel he 
really is somebody. There being no cultural, traditional 
or class standards from the upholding of which the 
American can get self-appreciation he can only gain 
recognition and measure his successfulness by competing 
well against other Americans who were born the same 
time he was. 

Owing to the notorious lack of standards in America, 
this competition is merely quantitative. Life for an 
American is an endless race to accomplish numerically 
more no matter what than the millions of others of 
his own age. That is why Americans never stop rushing 
and why they have the un-British habit of "doing 
things." Doing things serves a clear-cut function for 
Americans. 

Once this basic concept is understood, one can ac 
count for the many queer actions every Englishman 8 
knows take place in America, It is well known, for ex 
ample, that Americans deal only in numbers represent 
ing real things or in concrete objects representing num 
bers. They respect nothing else. 

To have a lot of money, for example, is considered a 

8 Especially those who have not been to America, and who 
can therefore see a wood without any trees. 



8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

good thing in America. Americans are even known to 
feel happy if they are given several hundred-dollar bills. 
This is the main reason why Americans completely ig 
nore economic science; why, for instance, they refused 
to do anything about their post-war inflation. They 
wanted to have bills of large denominations in their 
pockets. They did not care what goods they could get 
with them. 

Even beauty is statistically measured in America. Am 
plitude and plentitude, tenuousness and sinuousness, 
are "plotted/ The lines, or curves, of Jane Russell have 
made her the most beautiful girl in her age-group. 
When Americans want to say a girl is pretty, they shun 
poetic imagery and say, "She s a perfect 36!" One fre 
quently overhears an American man saying to another: 
"Who was that pretty number I saw you with last 
night?" 

Englishmen do not always understand the American 
quest for numerical certainty. They are often shocked 
by Americans who respond to a politely vague invita 
tion to "come to dinner some time" by asking "When?" 

Unlike the British who devised the rules for cricket 
so that matches could end without either side winning 
Americans want to be sure what goes on. They want to 
know who wins and "what the score is/* 10 They even 

9 No one could ever think of applying this term to the 
average British girL 

10 This may be related to the fact that Americans never have 
to play the Australians at cricket. 



THE WAY THEY ARE p 

plan, build, name and number their streets consistently. 
This is rightly regarded as unimaginative in England, 
where half the streets are named High Street, a quarter 
are not named at all, and the rest given names in dupli 
cate so that going to dinner at a friend s house is a quiz 
or puzzle rather than an occasion for eating* (See Eat, 
American Tendency to,) 

Because they must compare their accomplishments 
with those of others in their age-group, Americans are 
extremely sensitive about their age. They alone, of all 
peoples, take great pains to conceal it. That is because 
the degree of accomplishment which puts one in the 
lower quarter of one s own age-group would, if one were 
thought a year younger, put one almost at the head of 
the list. Americans make intense efforts to appear 
younger than they are. The shrill, boisterous, adolescent 
behaviour which frequently makes Europeans say 
"Americans behave like children" is, in fact, a purpose 
ful disguise. The shrewd Americans hope it will lead 
others to think that they really are children. 11 

American women make Amazonian efforts to falsify 
their age. 12 When American women get beyond the age 
at which it is still decent for men to flatter them about 



11 Americans are always hostile to those of their own sex 
from lower age-groups who overtake them. This accounts 
for the peculiar American detestation of Mickey Rooney and 
several other child stars, so dear to British film-goers. 

12 No such action by Englishwomen has been publicly re 
corded. 



JO AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

their youth, they turn to self-flattery, and call themselves 
collectively "the girls/ American men of the same age 
tell their wives on returning home that they have been 
"out with the boys/ 13 American men also flatter younger 
women by calling them "Baby" or "Babe," and the 
woman reciprocate by saying, "How s the boy?" to men. 14 

Americans compete not only individually but by fam 
ilies. 15 This has already been discovered by one acute 
British observer who has described how, except in 
Texas, 16 American parents prefer to have their children 
eat a lot and get higher marks in school than other 
children. 17 

The major form of social competition in America, 



18 This is not always true; in fact, seldom. 

14 Americans always call each other by their Christian names 
immediately after meeting, to preserve the fiction of nursery 
youthfulness. 

15 The Americans in the "lower classes," unlike the poorer 
people elsewhere, compete for the highest total of children. 
Consequently, the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets caused 
quite a stir in America. It did not, of course, in England 
where everyone knew something like that would happen 
once Canadians were given self-determination, 

16 Few European social analysts go to Texas, The customs 
there are not conducive to research. It is one of the few 
States where it is legal to shoot a man who takes out one s 
wife. 

17 It is quite otherwise in England. 



THE WAY THEY ARE JJ 

however, is the party, the cocktail party, or the dinner. 18 
Here the competition is also numerical, the object being 
to feed the guests larger amounts of food and drink 
than other hosts do. Such parties which account for the 
notorious vulnerability of the Americans to ulcers, stom 
ach trouble, high blood-pressure and other ailments 
are reported in the local newspaper the next day. The 
reports list the total food and liquor consumption, and 
the ten guests with the highest total food and liquor 
consumption during the evening. 

Such parties serve a manifold purpose for the develop 
ment of the American personality. They enable the host 
to compete with other hosts, the guests to compete with 
other guests, and everyone to spend the time between 
courses or drinks conversationally "feeling out" the oth 
ers to see how much they have accomplished, what their 
age is, and how much they can eat. 19 

For the American must not only rush his life away by 

18 Americans have no gift for conversation. (See Conversa 
tion in America, Dearth of.) So in self-defence, they have 
invented many kinds of parties to take up the conversa 
tional slack: hay-rides, strawberry festivals, progressive din 
ner parties, reactionary dinner parties, treasure hunts, come- 
as-you-are parties, stay-where-you-are-and-well-come parties, 
etc. 

19 Cocktail parties are not regarded as places to exchange 
opinions on weighty public or professional subjects, as they 
are in England. 



J2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

competing in "doing things." He must also keep track of 
all the other Americans of his own age group, and what 
they are accomplishing. 

That is why Americans always talk with strangers and 
strike up conversations in trains, which every proper 
Briton knows were meant to be ridden in, not talked in. 
Everyone is a potential competitor. Therefore Ameri 
cans must talk to everyone. 

Their need to "check up on" other Americans ends in 
everyone in America knowing almost everyone else. 
That is why it is permissible to ask any American one 
meets whether he knows one s cousin Ethelred in Deep 
Gulch, Arizona. If Ethelred is in the American s age- 
group, the odds are he does. 

This introductory survey shows that the American 
leads a purposeful, self-conscious, hectic, and unenvia 
ble life. He is so rushed in competing, and so busy trying 
to find out how to conduct his life, that he never has 
time to live it. He is always taking photographs, in the 
hope that at some future date he can go through his 
photograph album and see what his life was all about. 
What a huge photo album, or vast film, kept from an 
American s birth, would consist of can be gauged from 
the brief genetic view of an American s early years which 
follows. 

When English babies are lying damply and lazily in 
their prams, learning to talk (or not), American infants 
have already been thrust into that competitive struggle 
with their coevals which they must wage for the rest of 
their unnatural lives. 



THE WAY THEY ARE I) 

When English children are earnestly and thoughtfully 
acquiring the general and technical knowledge for 
which their eager minds thirst, Americans are being 
forced into parties, contests, "extra-curricular activi 
ties" 20 and games of "spin-the-bottle." 21 While English 
youths are conducting tentative, and gentle, courtships 
in cinemas, under hedges, in parks, or in pubs, Ameri 
cans tear wildly from date to date, dance to dance, car to 
car, city to city, and bed to bed. When, his mate chosen, 
his life s routine mapped out, the Englishman content 
edly relaxes into monogamous matrimonial monotony, 
the American is still at it trying to out-drink, out-work, 
out-eat, out-smoke, out-love and out-live all his contem 
poraries. 

After a few years* practice, taking away toys from his 
mates, trying to drink their milk, and hitting them over 
the head when displeased, 22 the American child passes 
into school. By then, he is well trained in the pattern of 
competitive and numerical materialism. Ignoring the 

20 Extra-curricular activities: sports, clubs, games, school 

newspapers, magazines, etc., which take up the time of 

American children at school, and prevent their developing 

a taste for the leisure-time reading of Shakespeare, Milton, 

Bacon, etc. (See Culture, American Lack of.) 

21 A so-called "kissing-garae," or forcing device, to make 

young Americans sex-conscious; it is usually taught by their 

parents. 

22 Only American babies are aggressive. (See Aggression, 

American, Distressingly Widespread Existence at All Ages 

of.) 



X^ AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

reading, writing, arithmetic, and other academic sub 
jects, which are taught largely for form s sake, 23 he 
plunges, as he is expected to do, into the many activities 
and contests 24 which form the important part of Ameri 
can school life. Unable to relax in the comfortable cer 
tainty that by the time he is twelve or thirteen the type 
of education he can receive will be definitely settled, 25 
he is often forced to wait until he is eighteen before his 
parents and teachers feel qualified to make a final deci 
sion about his ability. 

In the rugged competition of the American schools, 
the weaker may fall by the wayside early. Children who 
win too few contests; children who fail to get enough 
Valentines on St. Valentine s Day; girls who do not have 
enough "Coke-dates" (see below}*, highschool boys who 
are not suspended from school several times for smoking 
or for driving a car without permission all these leave 
school early, their chances to enter the American lite 
badly crippled. 

23 And to impress prospective European immigrants. (See 
Chapter III.) 

24 Success in contests is also numerical. It is measured not by 
which distinctions are awarded each child but by how many 
he gets. A child voted the least likely to succeed, the homeli 
est, the biggest pest, the one who wears the most tattle-tale 
grey shirts (or dresses) and the one the class would least like 
to be with on a desert island, is much more successful and 
sought-after than a child who collects only three titles: 
handsomest, most likely to succeed, brightest. 

25 As he could in Britain. 



THE WAY THEY ARE 1$ 

The swift who are still in the race must keep going. 
Running rapidly, in order either to advance or merely 
to keep their old places, they find themselves at the age 
of seventeen or eighteen in what the Americans call 
"college/* 26 After swallowing goldfish, joining Greek-let 
ter societies, 27 going to lectures, accompanied by swing- 
bands, and destroying college property, the most vigor 
ous finally emerge with a B.A. degree and a better 
chance of living in suburbia than most Americans. 

Sex in America can never be the lovely and uninhib 
ited expression of tender emotion it was meant to be. 
For Americans, sex is not sex. It is only another way of 
vying with their equals, competing with them and try 
ing to outdo them. 28 

The anomalous American introduction to sex, called 
"dating," revolves in its early days around a curious 
American institution called the "drug-store/* Although 
they have had before them for centuries the example of 
that superior meeting-place for people of all classes in 

26 Or sometimes, with typical American exaggeration, Uni 
versity: thus, Harvard University, Yale University. (See 
Exaggeration, American, Prevalence of.) 

27 Often the only Greek symbols ever seen in American uni 
versities. 

28 So deep-rooted is the American admiration for numerical 
success that a man who has had affairs with many women, 
although sometimes publicly referred to with disapproval- 
is profoundly respected by his fellows. This type of ambition, 
respect and hero-worship is unknown in Europe. 



X6 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Britain, the pub, the Americans obstinately cling to the 
"dry" drug-store as their one social centre. 29 

Drug-stores maintain their enormous size and popu 
larity in American life because sooner or later, everyone 
shows up in one. There is no better place for the perpet 
ually self-measuring Americans to learn what their 
neighbours are doing and how they "stack up against 
them/* Many Americans devote one day a month to the 
drug-store. Time passes quickly, for, besides comparing 
themselves with other people and getting information 
from the soda-fountain clerk, Americans can eat any and 
all meals, drink (not alcohol), read the books, test 
alarm clocks, listen-in, prod pressure cookers, swallow 
aspirins, make telephone calls and write post-cards. 30 

So when young Americans, against their own inclina 
tions, are pushed into making appointments with mem 
bers of the opposite sex (i.e., dating), they naturally 
begin the process at their neighbourhood drug-store. 
Since most of the things needed (or wanted) on a date 
are sold here, drug-stores play an all-important part in 
American social life, even when its pattern has widened 

29 A good example of American contrariness. Although all 
Americans (except prohibitionists) drink too much, their 
drug-stores are not licensed to sell liquor at the soda-foun 
tain. In some States, they may sell it in bottles, which must 
then be taken away and consumed elsewhere. 

30 The more modern drug-stores have swimming-pools and 
ski-jumps. 



THE WAY THEY ARE IJ 

from "Coke-dates" to the movies, dancing, parties and 
week-end trips to Atlantic City. 31 

So hot is the pace of American life that few young 
Americans dare to wait until marriage to experience sex 
relations. 32 Caught between the remnants of a Puritan 
tradition and their competitive needs, they have devised 
a sex-compromise, variously known as necking, petting, 
"smooching," "pitching woo/ and so on. This unusual 
procedure is an abbreviated form of love-making, al 
though it is not correct to call it (as exasperated visiting 
Europeans have done) merely "another damn American 
labour-saving device." 83 Depending on the zest with 
which its practicers pursue it, it passes over, sooner or 



31 Similar in content and purpose to a week-end at Brighton. 

32 For fear some of their age-mates will jump the gun and 
beat them to it. 

33 Necking (to use only one of its many terms) may take 
place anywhere in the movies, in the park, on the back 
porch. The most popular place is an automobile (see Auto- 
biles, American, Large Size of) parked in a country lane 
generally known as "Lovers Lane/ (See Standardisation, 
American.) It is customary for adolescents to attach large 
glare-flashlights to the front of their cars and cruise up and 
down these lanes, startling and counting the neckers. Towns 
frequently have contests with each other, based on how 
many neckers appeared in their town (and immediate en 
virons) during the summer months. The numerical com 
petitiveness is seldom absent for long. 



l8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

later, into that kind of lovemaking which can be recog 
nized by Europeans. 

As Europeans know, Americans of both sexes are poor 
lovers. They bring to love-making, as to all other activi 
ties, two qualities only: energy and speed. Admirable as 
such qualities are in turning out unwanted consumer 
goods (see Industry, American), they are not adequate 
substitutes for the gloom which is so necessary for suc 
cessful love-making. 34 

The chief inhibitory factor in all American sex-rela 
tions is that Americans of both sexes are always too self- 
aware, too terrified that they are not doing as well as 
their age-mates. This fear finds concrete expression in 
concern about the "date-rating score/ 

At twelve or thirteen, when he (or she) has his (or 
her) first date, the American child is initiated into the 
"date-rating system." From then on, in lieu of identity 
cards, Americans carry small, individual date-rating 
cards, and keep their scores up to the minute. The 
scoring-table is posted in various public buildings (like 
post offices). It is seldom, however, referred to, since 
most Americans have the schedule memorized by the 
time they have been dating for a year or so. An abbre 
viated version of the scoring-table appears on the oppo 
site page. 

To obtain a marriage licence in most American 
States, a minimum date-score is required. Since to be 

34 And so characteristic of love-making in Britain. 



THE WAY THEY ARE Jp 

DATE-RATING SCORE TABLE 85 
ACTIVITY SCORE 

"Coke" and talk (afternoon) . . . . 0.5 

(evening) . . . . i ,o 

Movies, food/drink, talk (after 6 p.m..) . . 2.0 

(before 6 p.m.) . . i .5 

Dancing, food/drink, talk . . . . , . 3.0 

"Late date" (a) 4.0 

"Late date" (carried to breakfast) . . 6.0 

Flowers, candy or present employed . . Negative (b) 

(a) Late date: A date which takes place after the last publicly 
scheduled date of the day. 

(b) It is considered quite permissible to send flowers, candy, 
or a present, but depending upon what is sent a cer 
tain amount must be subtracted from the point score* 

permitted to marry young 36 Is considered a mark of 
great distinction, most Americans put in the major part 
of their adolescent years accumulating high scores, in 
stead of in more (intellectually) stimulating pursuits. 

Most Americans numerical, quantitative and repeti 
tive as ever like to marry as often as possible. Con 
siderable ill-feeling exists toward individual States 
which have deliberately made divorce easy (in order to 

35 This table is much abbreviated. To keep one s card ac 
curately (and one s competitors are vigilant to see that one 
does), many complicated mathematical calculations are nec 
essary. 

36 That is, to have a high date-score. 



2O AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

allow their inhabitants to get higher scores with less 
effort). Some States have retaliated by refusing to recog 
nize these easy divorces (and the scores, too). The agita 
tion for a uniform divorce law for the entire country is 
usually started by reformers from the less-privileged 
States, who object to the unfair discrimination. 

But marriage in America, unlike marriage in other 
countries, does not mean that one has reached a quiet 
harbour. Far from it. In America, problems merely be 
gin with marriage (see The American Family). Nor 
does the competitive need to excel disappear. To some 
extent, it is switched into other channels than sex. But 
not entirely. Many Americans, not satisfied with their 
pre-marital date scores or simply unable to free them 
selves from old habits, continue grimly and determinedly 
along old paths. (See Adultery, American.) 

It is not to be thought, from this, that Americans are 
immoral. They are not; at least, no more so than other 
people. Their lapses come not from lust but from lack 
of self-assurance; not from lasciviousness but from loy 
alty to the American competitive system. 

The saddest part about the sex-life of the Americans 
is that they do not enjoy it at all. They would probably 
like nothing better than to live in England, where the 
minimum of such activity is expected. 



II 



THE WAY THEY WORK 



". . . visualize the scientifically efficient factory of the 
American business combine . . . producing in enormous 
quantities standardized commodities of respectable quality 
. . . designed to satisfy, in the main, merely the animal in 
stincts of self-preservation, the desire for common pleasure, 
and the greed for power/ BEATRICE WEBB: My Apprentice- 
skip. 

". . * the productive capacity of the boot and shoe in 
dustry was raised to three times what the country could 
have absorbed if every American bought all the boots he or 
she could fairly need/ IX N. PRTTT: Star Spangled Shadow. 

WHEN they look down on America s hectic industrial 
ism (knowing that the American, no matter how rich, is 
rather to be pitied than envied) Europeans are grateful 
that Americans, and not Europeans, are the wealthiest 
people in the world. 



%4 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Americans produce so much that, besides the competi 
tive race, their life is a frantic race to consume what 
they produce. Europeans know that Americans, in gain 
ing their wealth, have become as culturally barren and 
impersonal as the machines they operate. 

The average American is drowning in a sea of stand 
ardized abundance. He must thrash and kick his life 
away, consuming and wasting, to keep his head above 
the suffocating flow of shining luxuries and gadgets that 
pour from the laissez-faire industrial system. 

What worries Europeans is: How long will America 
remain the strongest and wealthiest country? Will she 
use her power to force others to assume this r61e? Will it 
one day fall to the lot of Britain to replace America? 

One can reassure such pessimists. Americans will go 
on having the wealthiest economy for some time; they 
have made a virtue out of their adversity. Generations 
of corruption by wealth have led them to believe it is a 
good thing to produce and consume as much as possible. 
Moreover, the average American, burning himself out 
consuming as much as possible, is periodically cheered 
by kindly European forecasts that American prosperity 
cannot last, and that bigger and worse depressions will 
come along and give him the relief of austerity. 

To understand how Americans let themselves be bam 
boozled into becoming the wealthiest nation, one can 
only turn to European intellectuals, particularly Marx 
ists. The truth one learns from them is that America was 
lost from the start, since it was colonized without plan 
ning. Without nationalized industries, a T.U.C., "work- 



THE WAY THEY WORK 2j? 

ing parties/* and daily admonitions from some Central 
Office of Information, the early Americans could not 
fight against the laws of capitalist development. They 
became individualists. They began making up their own 
minds. 

As European planners know, when people are given 
freedom of decision their depraved and baser instincts 
dominate. It was therefore natural that, when Ameri 
cans began making up their minds, they should decide 
to want to be rich and to seek goods that satisfied their 
"animal instincts * and their "desire for common pleas 
ure/ 5 * Without a plan and without paternalistic Fabian 
planners it was inevitable that Americans should com 
pound this error by becoming in the course of time a 
nation of businessmen, where profits are made on coal 
mines; a nation where working men would rather face 
the bother of spending their own money than pay cig 
arette taxes and let government bulk-purchasers decide 
what is best for them to eat. 2 

Had there only existed in eighteenth-century Europe 
a sufficient surplus of retired trade-union leaders so that 

1 This is not the case in England where the people buy coal 
to get slate, sausage to get bread, and beer to get water. 

2 Americans are so busy deciding what to spend their money 
on that they employ specialists to help make up their minds 
for them on problems not related to consuming. There are 
psychoanalysts for difficult cases; advice-to-the-lovelorn col 
umns for romance problems; and newspaper gossip-colum 
nists for problems of State* (See Politics.) 



26 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

a planner might have been spared for America, that 
country would be an elysium today. The people would 
be too busy chasing raccoons for food to drive lewdly 
over-size automobiles. Indians would be breeding ponies 
for district officers and carrying on uninhibitedly for the 
benefit of anthropologists from the London School of 
Economics. Instead of listening to singing advertise 
ments, Americans would spend their leisure creatively, 
reading (and filling in) forms in triplicate, as persons 
do in a society which is planned to make men realize 
their potentialities. 

We must now turn to history to see how and why 
American industry got itself into the state which Eu- 
roupe s intellectuals say it is in. 

EARLY AMERICAN CAPITALISM 

Only a tiny minority of early settlers in America were 
English gentlemen (see Chapter III). None was a 
reader of The New Statesman. It was only to be ex 
pected that such degenerate types, confronted by a wild 
new world without rationing, should each turn to trade 
and manual labour and try to make a living for himself. 
Given this initial error, the rest of American history 
followed with the inevitability of Marxist certitude. 

Once Americans turned to work and industry, the 
necessary result was the exploitation of red-Indians. 
What Americans call their "Old Deal" their first com 
mercial bargain occurred on the site of Wall Street. 
There, the colonial capitalist swindled the Iroquois out 



THE WAY THEY WORK 



of Manhattan Island for twenty-four dollars worth of 
hand-coloured coupons. 

Fresh from the England of Sir Robert Walpole, the 
later eighteenth-century settlers knew too well the pre 
vailing standards of commercial and political honesty 
in the Old Country not to feel guilty about their own 
petty frauds* This guilt created tensions which could 
only be relieved by even greater wickedness. So neurosis 
combined with greed to drive Americans on to more 
advanced stages of capitalist development. 

Up to this point Britain had tried to save Americans 
from corruption by wealth. She had taxed them with a 
planner s severity. She had prohibited the shipment of 
machinery (especially textile machinery) to America, 
where, the Cabinet felt, it would be dangerously close 
to raw cotton and other raw materials, so that sooner or 
later the combination might explode into a busy, profit- 
producing civilization. These laudable British efforts, 
however, halted in 1783 when Lord Cornwallis, his shirt 
less forces bled white by American souvenir salesmen, 
had to withdraw. Americans were left to learn for them 
selves the evils of wealth. 

The Revolutionary War (as Americans call it) thus 
gave the colonial capitalists their initial advantage in 
wealth and power. 3 The money fleeced from immigrants 

3 But, as has happened in every revolution prior to 29*7, the 
leaders wanted power to pass not to the majority, who were 
fighting, but to the minority themselves: 9 D. N. Pritt, 
Star Spangled Shadow f page 9, 



28 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

and British soldiers gave the colonial industrialists their 
economic advantage. They seized political power by stay 
ing behind while patriotic Americans were out shooting 
Guards officers. Since 1776 the American capitalist class 
has never lost its grip. 4 

As the practice of robbing immigrants expanded, the 
businessmen of the eastern American seaboard required 
a more efficient customs organization to fleece the "green 
horns" before they left their ships. "What our class 
needs," they hissed in their capitalist newspaper, The 
Federalist, "is a strong central government to organize 
the immigration industry in a business-like manner/* 

This clamour led to a second meeting of capitalists in 
Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers devised the 
present American constitutional machinery for keeping 
the capitalist class in power. The misguided citizens 
ratified the new Constitution, and in the year 1787 the 
United States of America opened for business. 

The immediate result was an improvement in the 
efficiency of fleecing immigrants. 5 The early iSoo s are 

4 Since that time there have always been some Americans 
with more money than others. 

5 The standing quarrel between New York and New Jersey, 
for example, as to which should pocket the swag from immi 
grants entering via the Hudson River, was quickly resolved 
when the federal government designated Ellis Island, in the 
bay between the two States, as a concentration camp for 
immigrants. Now that American capitalism has advanced 
far beyond the immigrant-swindling stage, the island is used 
for confining visiting British Cabinet Ministers. 



THE WAY THEY WORK 3p 

therefore properly termed "The Era of Good Feeling" 
by historians. But the inherent contradictions of capital 
ism, discovered later by Marx, were not to be denied. 
Wealth increased fantastically. This though unobjec 
tionable 6 in a planned economy is a sure sign in an un 
planned one that depressions are inevitable. 

The crisis came in 1837. The capitalists had been too 
efficient sucking money from the lower classes for two 
generations. For the first time Americans had no money, 
nothing to buy, and (worst of all) nothing to chew. Ter 
rified mobs stormed the banks. Facing a snarling popu 
lation, the capitalists took emergency action. They made 
Congress quickly pass a law offering free land in the 
West. All one had to do to get land under this law was to 
settle on it, run it, and ruin it (see America, Shocking 
Erosion of). It was about this time, too, that fast clipper 
ships were sent to China to get more immigrants. 

THE GOLD RUSH OF 49 AND THE RISE OF THE 
MILLIONAIRE 

Slowly the tottering economy righted itself. New 
money was pumped into the economic system as fast as 
it was taken from the incoming Chinese. 

But it was the policy of free land that was most success 
ful. Discontented citizens, wavering between a march 
on Washington and the prospect of free land, threw Nes- 
caf and loaded dice into covered wagons and pointed 
their mules toward the setting sun. The early westward 

If unlikely. 



50 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

movement, though insignificant compared with the 
strap-hanging "Gold Rush" that followed, was swollen 
by hundreds of thousands of unfortunate Chinese for 
whom, once they had been fleeced, there was no further 
use in the East. At Ellis Island their money was stolen. 
In New Jersey, vacuum-cleaner salesmen took their 
shoes. In Pennsylvania, insurance salesmen got their 
spats. So these pathetic creatures were alternately swin 
dled and thrust toward the frontier by the ruthless, per 
istaltic action of the capitalist system. 

The need for more land to give away led the capital 
ists to force a war with Mexico in order to seize Cali 
fornia. At first California was as unpopular with the mi 
grating Easterners as Texas today. But late in 1848, 
while advanced Europeans were throwing manifestos at 
one another, an early Californian, one Captain Sutter, 
was peacefully destroying natural resources on a little 
plot near Sacramento when he accidentally discovered 
gold. 

"Gold! Gold in California!" The glittering words 
carried East by pony-express thrilled farmers in Ohio 
and rack-renters in Boston. The Gold Rush of 1849 was 
on. Gold! Judges adjourned courts. Surgeons stitched up 
incomplete appendectomies. Congressmen even stopped 
talking and rushed to join the "Forty-Niners." Gold! 
Every man who could leave his wife left home. 7 Gold in 

7 Those who couldn t tried to marry their wives to immigrant 
males. This may in part account for the notorious American 
rejection of the immigrant father, but not the mother, noted 
by Gorer in The American People. 



THE WAY THEY WORK JI 

California! Names had to be drawn from a hat to see who 
should stay behind and be President. The Gold RusH of 
49 is the connecting-link between early colonial capital 
ism and the multimillionaires of today. It was a stam 
pede in which wealth and power came to the least ca 
pable and to the most depraved. 

The capitalists got a head start. They were standing 
round their stock exchange tickers when the famous 
"Gold Message" ("What Hath God Wrought") came in. 
Since only the wealthy could afford the train fare to St. 
Louis then the end of the line Eastern financiers 
reached that half-way mark weeks before the common 
people, who had to travel by wagon train. 

West of St. Louis there were no roads or railways* To 
get to California along the notorious Santa F Trail in 
volved crossing torrid deserts, torrential rivers, and icy 
mountain passes. It was a journey requiring courage, 
virility, and endurance, none of which the soft and 
wealthy Easterners possessed. (Even today unlike Euro 
pean planners and bureaucrats the American entre 
preneur is neither imaginative nor bold. 8 ) 

Loaded down by heavy chrome watch-chains, the 
effete financiers fell perspiring by the wayside in places 
like Nevada and Oklahoma. Furious at the thought of 
missing the gold, they devised wicked schemes to rob 
the humble pioneers who, uncorrupted by wealth, came 
riding along later, courageously and innocently. The 

8 On the other hand Europeans well know that he is pushing 
and aggressive. This is only a seeming contradiction. Actu 
ally it is very dialectical. 



32 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

financiers formed bands to ambush the trustful travel 
lers* Some raided wagon-trains from the hills. Others, 
capable of more subtle (and profitable) evils, set up 
snack bars, miniature golf courses, newsreel theatres, 
and so on, to fleece the "Forty-Niners." * 

From St. Louis to California, the honest pioneers were 
skinned. By the time a few of them filtered across the 
skull-strewn desert into California, they were so dis 
illusioned with the diabolical effects of gold-prospecting 
and wealth-seeking that they resolved not to touch a nug 
get with a ten-foot pole. Turning their backs on worldly 
activity, they became astrological mystics, poring over 
strange scripts and worshipping semi-naked blonde god 
desses known as "starlets/* That is why so many ex 
patriate European intellectuals go into (more or less) 
retirement there. 

THE FIRST SOULLESS CORPORATION 

As millions of "Forty-Niners" ran that fabulous gaunt 
let of exploitation westward, the Santa F6 Trail saw for 
tunes (and precedents) made overnight. In the story of 
one of the great robber-barons, Cornelius Superchief, 
one can see the origin of that peculiarly American insti 
tution, the soulless monopoly corporation, and its con 
comitant evil, absentee ownership. 10 

* And their daughters who were named Clementine. 
10 We quote from the capitalist historian, Fuzzey, whose 
text-book, "Brief Profitable Lives/ is compulsory reading 
for American school-children, and staff members of the 

humour-magazine, Time. 



THE WAY THEY WORK 53 

"Cornelius Superchief, railway magnate and 
founder of the modern corporation, was born of poor 
but greedy parents in New York. In the race to Cali 
fornia, Superchief could get no farther than Laramie, 
Wyoming, where he formed a band of businessmen- 
on-horseback. They dealt with the Forty-Niners* 
money, horses, wagons, and women. To prevent any 
less ruthless member of his gang from leaving and 
squealing (i.e. singing to policemen), Superchief put 
his organization on a proper legal basis, with the help 
of lawyers, and made it impossible for any member to 
quit. 11 All were made legally responsible for the action 
of any one gang-member. This was America s first cor 
poration. 12 

"After a year of prudent saving, Superchief con 
trolled all wagons in the west. He then opened a 
wagon-train service, charging outrageous prices, the 
standard fee being a thousand dollars plus 80 per 
cent of all the money the passenger would make in 
California. 

"This percentage-of-future-income kind of charge 
was soon copied by less inspired capitalists. It led to 
the present absentee-ownership situation, in which 
Eastern bankers control all the assets of the Far West, 

11 ". . . the earliest pioneers were not independent * . . 
individuals, but an integral part of a social system from 
which there was no escape/* IX N. Pritt, op, cit. 
12 Always called soulless, because it was composed of Ameri 
cans. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 



including the Great Salt Lake, the prayer-mat used by 
Aldous Huxley, the Grand Canyon and Lana Tur 
ner." 13 



THE CIVIL WAR AND THE ADVENT OF MODERN CAPITALISM 

The "prosperity decade** of the fifties came to a close 
in June, 1858, when the number of pioneers passing over 
the Santa F6 Trail dropped sharply. Business slumped. 

Alarmed, the capitalists ordered the government to 
take a census. It showed the entire population of Eastern 
America to be: three million slaves in the south; a few 
hundred unfortunates chained to government posts in 
Washington; and one man (Horace Greeley) stationed 
in New York by the capitalists to catch landing-lines 
from ocean vessels and tell immigrants "Go West, Young 
Man." Everyone else had already moved West to Cali 
fornia. 

By a wily publicity campaign, the Santa F6 capitalists 
rescued their businesses by starting a Civil War. 14 Their 

18 The fact that a successful financier has a chance of con 
trolling Lana Turner is one of the reasons capitalism still 
appeals to young Americans, and even enlightened liberal 
Americans. 

14 Americans unfortunate enough not to have read European 
intellectual journals think the Civil War was fought to pre 
serve the Union or to free the slaves. This is merely an ex 
ample of the success of American advertising, on behalf of 
"the myth of capitalism/ 



THE WAY THEY WORK 35 

object was to set the slaves free so they, too, could go 
West and boost business along the Santa F Trail. This 
meant war, which was even more satisfactory, since the 
entire white population had to return East, along the 
same Trail, in order to fight. 15 

The Civil War prevented another depression, but it 
also created one more capitalistic contradiction, the so 
lution of which led to the present assembly-line, mass- 
production economy. Putting everyone into one Ameri 
can army or the other introduced the hitherto exploited 
masses to standards of living higher than they had ever 
known. Some got meat to eat twice a week. Some were 
even given boots. It became obvious that, after the war, 
the working class would no longer work for sweated 
wages. 

Anticipating the need for a substitute for cheap la 
bour, the capitalists, while the masses were fighting, 
combed the world for labour-saving machinery. But to 
get their factories completely mechanized they needed 
time. So they prolonged the war by ordering the North 
ern generals to spin-out and botch things, and at war s 
end they insisted that the northern army police the 
South, 

The capitalists could not invent the new machinery 
themselves. They were successful in mechanization and 
mass production because they got all the new inventions 

15 It was especially satisfactory for the American Conserva 
tives, who, like their opposite numbers in Britain, can only 
abide new ideas when there is a war to fight. 



2$ AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

from the one country that has invented everything 
humane and up-to-date, from zippers and "peoples de 
mocracies" to double-decker buses and ice-cubes with 
holes in the centre: the home of planning the Soviet 
Union. 

Americans still disbelieve this. They do not see how it 
fits in with the fact that America was the first country to 
install modern assembly-line machinery. But the capital 
ist trick which enabled America to mechanize itself 
centres on a brilliant and hardy band of Stalinist gen 
iuses who in 1865 escaped from the Czar s secret police 
on the pretence that they were going to an international 
intellectual congress. Instead they slipped away to an 
island off Siberia. 16 

ie Here in the Aleutians they lived simply. Starting the day 
by inventing drugs like penicillin, they would relax at 
"elevenses" with confessions of Right-wing deviationism. 
Before lunch they would concentrate on physics, discovering 
relativity or nuclear reactors. Lunch itself was taken up with 
trifles like hot barber towels or traffic lights for six-way 
intersections. The afternoon was much the same: a book or 
two of Aristotle, or a Shakespeare comedy; then tea and 
confessions of Left-wing deviationism. In the evenings, sit 
ting before their electronic camp fires, they amused them 
selves with teasers: e.g., how to expand social services with 
out raising taxes. Then, slipping their tousled heads on 
hair-restoring pillows, they would confess to ultra-Stalinist 
deviations from Stalinism, and sink into a sleep enlivened 
by Freudian images speaking Shavian dialogue. 



THE WAY THEY WORK 57 

American capitalists first heard of the existence of 
these early Stalinists from a Congressman who had been 
sailing near Alaska giving loyalty-tests to seals in Federal 
fisheries. That was in 1868. By that time the Stalinists 
had completed working drawings for every machine we 
know today, and many that we don t yet* With inde 
cent haste the Americans offered the Czar seven and a 
half million dollars for the Alaska territory. Not being 
in the vanguard of the proletariat, that monarch was 
easily led and misled. He accepted. 

By 1877, when the American masses returned from the 
South, the Northern capitalist factories were bulging 
with modern machinery. Only low-wage, machine-tend 
ing jobs were available to "veterans" accustomed to a 
higher standard of living than that with which they 
merely put up in the fifties. But what might have been 
an explosive class-struggle did not come off. Something 
terrible had meanwhile happened to the Common Man* 

It was this: 

Because the Generals had purposely "featherbedded" 
and bungled, the Civil War had been horribly bloody. 
The common people who fought in it were therefore suf 
fused with guilt and shocked at how brutal and rapa 
cious human beings can be under capitalism. In addition 
to the general guilt, Southerners felt specially guilty be 
cause they had lost the war and because they had called 
Lincoln "Honest Abe/* (Honest anything is a vulgar 
term in capitalist American society.) The Northerners 
felt specially guilty because they had won the war and 



}8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

had mistreated Southern women. 17 Finally, both sides 
felt guilty about the assassination of Lincoln, because the 
assassin, Booth, came from a border State whose people 
had taken both sides at once. 

As a result of this enormous sense of guilt at the sight 
of human behaviour under capitalism the masses were 
moved by only one desire: to stop being human beings. 18 
When they saw that by tending machines they could be 
come more like machines, and less like human beings, 
they thronged to the factories and offered to work on as 
sembly lines for next to nothing. In this way began the 
feverish, over-producing, factory system which has 
swamped America with more standardized goods than 
its people have either the time or the energy to consume. 

Not realizing the perils of over-production that lay 
ahead, the capitalists pressed on. Seeing the profitable 
psychological effect on the masses of Lincoln s death, 
they arranged to have Presidential assassinations almost 
as regularly as Presidential elections, "in the high Ro 
man fashion." President Garfield was put away in 1881, 
and President McKinley (frequently praised as "the man 
who did more for American business than anyone else") 
was publicly assassinated in 1901. President Harding, 

17 Southern women are so constructed that it is impossible 
to have any contact with them at all without mistreating 
them. 

18 Living in a capitalist-controlled culture, the other alterna 
tive (trying to be human beings in a planned society) did 
not occur to them. 



THE WAY THEY WORK 59 

also a Republican, died of food poisoning in 1923 under 
circumstances ambiguous enough to give quite a fillip to 
American industry. 19 Americans still believe that for 
high production at low costs, a good assassination is 
worth more than all the appeals of Sir Stafford Cripps 
frozen end-to-end. 

AMERICAN CAPITALISM TODAY 

From 1880 onward, by Presidential and other political 
assassinations, 20 the capitalists so stimulated the desire of 
Americans to operate machines in order to escape from 
being human, that they could not get them to stop. The 
capitalists had created a Frankenstein monster, and to 
day America is merely reaping the grim harvest of over 
abundance shown by its early planlessness. 

The tremendous wealth turned out by compulsory 
machine-operating simply pours forth from factories 
without cease. Americans, seeing a mighty wave of sur 
plus chrome or cellophaned consumption goods looming 
over them, dare not waste a moment of consumption- 
time. If they did, surplus goods would pile up, the price- 
and-profit structure would collapse, and unemployment 
would soar. 



19 The statement that there is no difference between the two 
major American political parties needs qualification. Both 
are pro-capitalist, but the Republicans produce more Presi 
dents willing to die for industry than the Democrats. (See 
Politics,} 

20 Such as the hanging of Sacco and Vanzetti and the cre 
mation of Sam McGee. 



^O AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

The average American today looks exhausted, not so 
much because he spends an average thirty to forty hours 
a week earning his high standard of living, but because 
he has to spend the other one hundred and sixty-eight 
hours frantically and desperately consuming: endlessly 
eating and drinking, or pacing up and down to wear out 
floor-coverings, or driving fast and ceaselessly through 
thick city traffic to wear out motor-cars or to dirty their 
white-walled tires. 

Because it is essential to the system that Americans 
should over-consume, and because America has no cul 
tural or traditional or class standards that count for any 
thing, a citizen s prestige and social position is gauged 
by the numerical amount he consumes or wastes. And as 
this consumption, or waste, keeps America going, his 
patriotism is gauged the same way. 21 

Like everything else in America, consuming for rea 
sons of prestige is a competitive matter. There are very 
rigid ethical standards of what is proper and what is 
improper over-consumption. Outright destruction is a 
form of waste that is considered unethical. 22 Deliberately 

21 One of the reasons American civil servants are so fre 
quently attacked and hounded by Congressmen is because 
they are paid much less than other Americans. Professors, 
school-teachers and other poorly-paid elements in America 
are in many States required to take oaths of allegiance, or 
loyalty, because of their suspiciously low consumption-level. 

22 This is not true in wartime, when moral standards fall in 
America, as in most countries. 



THE WAY THEY WORK ^Z 

to hack one s television set with an axe is definitely not 
playing the game. When America was young, it was per 
missible for a nouveau riche to gain prestige by lighting 
cigars with thousand-dollar bills or mortgages on the 
State of Connecticut. Today, this is deemed old-fash 
ioned; almost ill-mannered. 

Accordingly, the actual amount of wasting and con 
suming done by an American in the year is no longer the 
sole criterion of social position. The method, or kind, of 
consumption now sets the standard. In the igso s, for 
example, someone discovered that the stock exchange 
was an easy outlet for one s income. This method was 
too good to be kept secret. The Wall Street crash of 
1929 was the result of too many people wanting to lose 
too much money at the same time. The American Gov 
ernment consequently set up the Securities and Exchange 
Commission to supervise the stock-exchange and outlaw 
the easier forms of using up one s income. 

For the achievement of social prestige, however, using 
up money is deemed inferior to the consumption and 
wastage of actual goods. Relative high or low marks for 
goods-wasting depend on the relative difficulty of actu 
ally consuming the goods: wearing out a bronze bird- 
bath, for example, brings much more social prestige than 
using up a pencil. Since new products are always being 
introduced in America, there can be no lasting American 
social distinctions. 

The social anarchy this leads to in America can best be 
illustrated by the most recent shift in consumption- 
prestige ratings: 



^2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

It appeared in 1949 as if the post-war rankings were 
fairly settled, and as if an orderly and stable class system 
might develop in America. Suddenly, in December, 1949, 
up from the depths of social obscurity popped a man 
from Minnesota with webby feet and a fin-like fungus all 
down his back. He had found a new and most difficult 
product to consume. He was the first person to use up 
one of those fountain-pens Americans make for writing 
under water. Since it required a lead desk and water 
proof blotting-paper to do this, the man shot to the sum 
mit of the social scale. Everyone else dropped a notch. 

THE CLASS STRUGGLE AND THE AMERICAN ECONOMY 

When Americans fall behind in their consuming, and 
surpluses do begin to accumulate, they must drop every 
thing and build skyscrapers. These are the only build 
ings in which surpluses can be stored without taking up 
all the room there is in America. 

This leads to cycles of "Boom and Bust/ because drop 
ping everything to build skyscrapers means that Ameri 
cans have less free time to consume, and therefore even 
greater surpluses accumulate. Something of this sort oc 
curred in the panic of 1929-32, when many large New 
York skyscrapers were being constructed. 

The critical importance of consuming as fast as goods 
are produced has led to a unique form of class warfare 
in America. 23 At the top of the pile there are the leading 

23 It has also led to the unique American fear and dislike of 
anything old. When Americans see an antique, they feel 



THE WAY THEY WORK 4$ 

capitalists sixty families of them, as most Europeans al 
ready know. Thirty of these families are named Jukes, 
and the other thirty Kallikak. They control, between 
them, all the advertising agencies, news commentators 
and columnists (see Politics, American, Direction of), 
railroad shares, and modern art museums. They are thus 
far more powerful than the Government as all Euro 
peans also know. However, the sixty families are re 
spected because they get more money than anyone else 
and must therefore consume more goods. 

The middle class in America exists to provide lackeys 
for the capitalists. It is composed of persons who do not 
earn and consume as much as capitalists, but who pre 
tend that they do, showing thereby that they are loyal. 

All Europeans also know that both the upper and 
middle classes trample on the prostrate body of the 
American proletariat or working class. But one of the 
many reasons why Marxists especially European ones 
have not made any headway in America is because they 
have not understood the real nature of the American pro 
letariat s misfortune* It is not that workers do not have 
enough to eat or drink or wear or consume in general, as 
used to be their lot long ago. It is that they are forced by 
the wicked upper classes to work themselves to a frazzle 
consuming more than their fair share of the burden of 
surplus goods. Also, the real class interest of the capital 
ists is now to slow down production. The bosses are 

guilty, believing it should have been consumed years ago. 
So they forthwith buy it in order to start using it up. 



44 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

therefore constantly whittling down the number of 
emotionally satisfying hours that workers can spend at 
machines or on assembly lines and at the same time forc 
ing the unwilling workers into smart shops and automo 
bile salesrooms. 

In the late igso s, the capitalists tried to check the 
tide of over-production by hiring thugs to prevent work 
ers from remaining at machines more than ten hours a 
day. The workers were able to resist these tactics by or 
ganizing trade unions, so the frantic capitalists had to go 
further. In 1937, one of the more energetic of them hired 
almost the entire Chicago police force to keep workers 
from operating machines in his plant on Memorial Day, 
a legal holiday. Several workers were killed in that strug- 



This began a full-scale industrial war. The workers 
employed the "sit-down strike" tactic, refusing to leave 
their machines, and refusing to spend and consume more 
than they had been accustomed to. The industrialists 
then gave in. But only for a while. Once the plants were 
operating again, the bosses began a reign of terror. Com 
pany detectives, working in the dead of night, sent em 
ployees anonymous notes containing dollar bills (known 
as "passing the buck"). 

Surpluses, however, continued to mount above con 
sumption. Finally the capitalist "individualists" had to 
ask the Government to intercede in order to preserve 
the private enterprise economy. President Roosevelt, in 
a brilliant compromise, re-established peace. He made 
the workers accept a Minimum Wage-Maximum Hour 



THE WAY THEY WORK 4$ 

Law. It limited the time they could operate machines, 
and required them to spend and consume a minimum 
amount of goods each week. He was successful in getting 
the workers to do this because, at the same time, he 
passed the Wagner Labour Relations Act, which ordered 
employers to desist from certain "unfair labour prac 
tices" such as employing "labour spies" who in Amer 
ica creep up behind assembly-line workers and slip wads 
of notes, precious stones, etc., into the oppressed pro 
letarians overalls. 

Despite the efforts of liberal magazines and European 
Marxists to arouse them (see Politics, American), the 
American workers continue to accept their unequal bur 
den of the over-consumption effort. They do so with 
cheery fatalism. They know the truth of Disraeli s apho 
rism that every society has jobs which no one wants to 
undertake, but which must, after all, be done. They 
have been misled by capitalist propaganda into believ 
ing that to consume a lot is really a good thing, and that 
they are better off than their European comrades who do 
not have to consume and spend one-half or one-quarter 
as much. 

LAISSEZ-FAIRE INDIVIDUALISM 

Not a little of the American workers* acquiescence in 
their capitalist system is due to their uniting with all 
other Americans in a fanatical devotion to individualism, 
and an equally fanatical hatred of planning. 

They prefer the anarchy that results from each man 
pursuing what he conceives to be his objects in life, to 



46 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

the idea of working for the good of the whole which pre 
vails, for example, in Britain. In their naive way, Ameri 
cans explain this by saying that everyone can work in his 
own way in America, and things get done; whereas in a 
country like Britain everyone waits for someone else to 
say what the common good is, and nothing gets done. 24 

But there are many subsidiary reasons why Americans 
dislike planning. First of all, it is not competitive enough 
for the American personality. 25 Secondly, many Ameri 
cans subconsciously want another depression, so that 
they can have a rest from consuming. 26 

Another reason has to do with the ethics of waste. As 
already mentioned, while Americans admire waste, they 
do not admire it when it is over-easy. For that very rea 
son, Americans refuse even to consider nationalization* 
They do not like State corporations to monopolize in 
efficiency. On the other hand, the privately owned Amer 
ican corporations which must compete with one an 
other to irreparably ruin natural resources, waste money 
and men s lives, and pass the cost on to the public by 
charging high prices are considered perfectly ethical, 
even admirable. 

24 One can see from this that Americans have been so cor 
rupted by planlessness and wealth that they actually argue 
from the conviction that getting something done is a good 
thing. 

^Americans would approve of planning if there could be 
lots of competing plans, preferably one for each American. 
26 That is why so many go on voting for the Republicans. 



THE WAY THEY WORK. </7 

Americans often accuse Europe s Socialist planners of 
forcing human beings to behave as human beings were 
never intended to, in order to make them fit Socialist 
theories. Americans cannot believe that men were in 
tended to spend most of their waking hours writing 
minutes criticizing other people s minutes from behind 
desks in some sub-section of a sub-division of some sub- 
department of some Government monopoly. They be 
lieve the way to live is to write memoranda in some sub 
section of a sub-division of some sub-department of a 
privately-owned concern, so that someone doing the same 
thing in a similar concern which is less efficient at this 
game, will be forced out of work. 

What Americans do not realize is that they are com 
mitting the very crime of which they accuse European 
planners. They have moulded their humaneness and 
reined-in their instincts to conform with the dictates of 
economic liberalism. Europeans have merely moulded 
themselves to conform with the dictates of five-year plans 
and Socialism. 27 The Atlantic Basin today is a dismal 
swamp studded with battered capitalist pots calling 
dented Socialist kettles black. 28 



27 And instincts have been extinct in England since the time 
of Charles II. 

28 Americans get far more personal freedom, since no one 
knows what economic liberalism really could be today. That 
is because it is based on sound, logical principles which un 
fortunately cannot be applied to contemporary humanity. 



j8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

A good example of Americans trying to behave in con 
formity with laissez-faire capitalism is their travel and 
their railroads. 

Americans always travel. They do so because the the 
ory of economic liberalism requires the "labour force" 
to be mobile. Taking trips is felt to be a semi-religious 
obligation* Another incentive to travel is that it uses up 
resources. Still another is that Americans dislike one 
another so much 29 that they are never happy in one place 
for any great length of time. 30 

There are hundreds of privately-owned railroads in 
America each with its own name, many of them colour 
ful (Delaware, Lackawanna & Western; Katy Line; 
Sioux Line; Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe; Pere Mar- 
quette; Rockfish and Aberdeen, etc.). This private, un- 

Socialism, on the other hand, has no logical principles, a 
fact which permits every Socialist planner and politician to 
say that whatever he thinks ought to be done at the moment 
is Socialism. 

^Partly because they take competition so seriously; for 
a further explanation of this dislike, see Chapter III 
below. 

30 The factors listed above account for 90 per cent of the 
annual passenger mileage in America. The other 10 per cent 
of the travelling is done by barefoot boys proceeding from 
their log-cabins to the White House, and by unsuccessful 
political candidates (and a few chronically misanthropic 
slum dwellers) who race one another to the log-cabins that 
have just been vacated. On all railroads in egalitarian Amer 
ica, log-cabin passengers pay only half-fare. 



I* THE WAY THEY WORK 4$ 

planned system satisfies Americans ideologically, but it 
is a bother for the traveller. 

In travelling from Boston to Chicago, for example, 
the voyager need not leave his coach (or "car," as it is 
called in America); yet he travels over four or five dif 
ferent railways and must carry a long, perforated ticket 
composed of coupons for each separate bit of line. The 
stamina required to buy, carry, and correctly produce 
such a ticket on a journey across the continent is only a 
little less than that needed a century ago to make the 
trip on foot. Indeed, in the old days the traveller slept 
uninterruptedly each night at inns, or under the stars. 
But proliferation of private railway lines means that a 
new conductor has to board the train each time it enters 
the tracks of another Company, in order to punch his 
Company s coupon, or bit of ticket* As a result it is not 
uncommon for the traveller to be awakened three or 
four times a night and asked to lift all of his ticket down 
from the luggage rack and hand it to the conductor, 
who then has to find his part of it. 

There is also the inconvenience of making connections. 
The passenger seldom needs to change from the main 
line train to another serving the particular city to which 
he wants to travel. The American method is to unhook 
whole wagons or cars and leave each of them, with its pas- 
sengers, for hours at the various junction stations, until 
they are coupled to the train of the minor railroad, which 
puffs off with them to the destination. 

That this is not without its troublesome aspects is the 
moral of the famous "Judge Crater episode** of the *twen- 



50 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

ties. In this, a sleeping-car was unhooked from the East 
ern Pacific & Alfalfa (one of the major transcontinental 
railroads) and left at Ames, Iowa, where it was to be 
picked up by a Drop-Forge & Tabernacle-Truss Line 
bound for Des Moines. For one reason or another, the 
sleeping-car was overlooked for exactly three years and 
two months. After a world-wide search (in which the 
Army and the Air Force covered thousands of square 
miles), the car was discovered. It was then hooked on 
to a DF & TT train and taken to Des Moines, as sched 
uled. However, when the DF & TT conductor went 
through the train collecting tickets, he found two boys 
who were a year too old to travel on the half-fare tickets 
they had bought at the beginning of their journey, and 
quite a few toddlers who had no tickets at all. 

The parents refused to pay* The Company accordingly 
brought suit against them to recover the difference* 31 
The parents brought a counter-suit, charging the Com 
pany with violating the Constitution by practising "in 
voluntary servitude." The case went up to the Supreme 
Court to the accompaniment of great newspaper pub 
licity. But when the Court convened, it was discovered 
that a quorum was not present. Six of the nine Justices 
had been misplaced by other railroads at junction points 
throughout the country en route to Washington. One of 
them (Mr. Justice Crater) has yet to be found. The 
others did not show up until two years later, by which 

31 Drop-Forge & Tabernacle-Truss R.R. Co. vs. Mortimer 
et aL, 35 Kansas, 156. 



THE WAY THEY WORK J 

time the Statute of Limitations made further proceed 
ings impossible. 82 

Despite such occurrences, Americans continue to in 
sist that railroads be privately owned, and even worse 
that they compete. This insistence on competition was 
even stronger in the middle iSoo s, when the transcon 
tinental railroads were being built. 8 * It led to the build 
ing of railroads in such a way that today two, or even 
three, sets of lines belonging to different Companies run 
parallel. 

In the North West, for example, two lines, the Grand 
Northern and the Petit Northern, run side-by-side for 
over eight hundred miles. Prodded on by the American 
demand for competition, the Companies require their 
engine-drivers to throw chunks of coal at the engine- 
drivers of the competing line. This does not benefit the 
Companies, but it is gratifying and reassuring to the pas 
sengers, most of whom are laissez-faire businessmen. 

Only a year ago, in the celebrated Northern Railways 
scandal, two engine-drivers from those competing lines 
were discharged and given twenty lashes each by the 
capitalist Company Presidents for fraternizing: viz. set 
ting up a board between their cabs and playing checkers 
as their engines sped along. The drivers were defended 

32 See Zachary, H.H.: "The Supreme Court and the Truss 

Cases." 

** This is where the pitiable Chinese immigrants come into 

the economic picture. (See "The Gold Rush," above.) They 

built the Western railroads. 



52 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

by their union officials, who claimed that the transition 
from coal-heaving competitiveness to checker-playing 
competitiveness was an inevitable result of the inherent 
contradictions and rapid decay of the capitalist system. 
But public opinion was outraged. The drivers had to be 
punished. 

The story of American business and industry is thus 
a Greek tragedy in which the early colonization of Amer 
ica, without planning, led inevitably to a purgatory of 
competitiveness, and finally to an inferno of feverish, 
compulsive over-consumption. 

Today Americans are as far from any hope of im 
provement as they were after that famous scene in the 
White House, one murky afternoon in 1926, when Cal 
vin Coolidge looked up over the large, gilt cash-register 
which is kept on every American President s desk, rang 
up a sale, and remarked with a leer to the man he had 
just made an Ambassador: 

"The business of America is business." 
Since these were the only words President Coolidge 
uttered that year, they were widely reported to, and re 
peated by, over-consuming Americans. In fact, they came 
to have almost a magical sound. Americans still love to 
hear those words repeated. They love to read them, too. 
Considerate European intellectuals, diplomats and dele 
gates who visit America to help Americans solve their 
problem of underoverconsuming, consequently repeat 
these words to Americans with becoming frequency. 

On a quiet evening in any city "in the vast counting- 
house which lies across the Atlantic" (as Dickens de- 



THE WAY THEY WORK 55 

scribed it), the low tinkle of householders greedily count 
ing up their money is punctuated by crowds returning 
from cinemas, chanting ecstatically, with sepulchral 
commercialism: 

f The-bizz-nizz-of-America-izzbizz-nizz-the-bizz-nizZ <>f- 
A m erica-izzb izz-nizz." 



Ill 



THE WAY THEY LIVE 
TOGETHER 



WHY do Americans behave like Americans? 

To Americans, this natural query seems unnatural. It 
can only be properly answered by examining their pe 
culiar origins in infancy and childhood; hence, in the 
family; and hence (to be precise) in a peculiarly ma 
ternal physical environment. As every American orig 
inates in this peculiar maternal environment, it is far 
easier to explain why Americans behave like Americans 
than why, for instance, Germans behave like Germans. 

As is well-known outside America, Americans lack 
souls. This makes them even simpler to understand. It 
makes them both simple and simple-minded. (Souls are 
notoriously correlated with complexity, and therefore 
with higher mental development.) It is therefore un 
necessary to go below the surface to learn about Ameti- 

57 



$8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

cans, because most of them only live on the surface. 1 Be 
ing so simple and superficial, Americans thus create a 
uniform, superficial culture and civilization, based on 
standardization and mass production. They fear being 
different from their fellows. Consequently, few devia 
tions from a standard pattern of family life ever occur. 

The standard pattern of family life, as was said above, 
reposes upon the mother. The main features of the 
American scene are therefore those of a matriarchy. 2 
From the high-chair to the bath-chair, from the bottle 3 
to the bier, the country is dominated by women. In 
America, the female is the species. 

It is true that in business, industry, finance, law, the 
armed forces, medicine, university teaching, the police 
force, architecture and politics, the American woman 
does not at present occupy the leading positions. But all 
this becomes unimportant when one considers what she 
does do: She gives birth to the men who largely control 
these things. Her dominant role in America is based on 
the fact that she gives birth to the child. This happens in 
other countries; for example, in Britain. But that is 
not the point. It is the interpretation of this fact of na- 

1 A European can be compared with an iceberg, only one- 
seventh of which is visible, the rest being submerged. No 
part of any American has ever been known to be submerged. 
2 Hence such peculiar Americanisms as "the bosom of the 
family/ "breastworks of civilization," and the even more 
illuminating economic process of "boom and bust/* 
*Milk. 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 5^ 

ture which gives it importance in "The American Way 
of Life." 

In the beginning, America was a wilderness. 4 Natu 
rally, no sensible, well-adjusted Europeans wanted to 
leave civilized, peaceful Europe for a wilderness* So the 
people who did go were an odd-job lot: defaulting debt 
ors, people who liked Indians, men deserting their 
wives, wives deserting their husbands, couples deserting 
everyone else, and people who had heard that tobacco 
was cheap. But they all had two things in common. They 
all wanted to get away from some place. And they all 
wanted to get to the same place* 

American standardization is therefore very old, as 
time is reckoned in America. It stems from two causes. 
First, all Americans obviously were alike because they 
all wanted to go to America. Second, when they got 
there, they had to remain alike in order to confuse the 
Indians. An Indian seeking revenge on the white man 
who had scalped his father-in-law (instead of his mother- 
in-law) 5 seldom could distinguish the guilty white 
man from any other white man. Safety obviously lay in 
being as much like one s fellows as possible. Even after 
the need had passed (see Indians, Disposal of), the pat- 

4 Actually, America has been remarkably consistent in its 
development. Today, it is still a wilderness. See Barrenness, 
cultural Chapter IV. 

5 The Americans share with the Indians a peculiar and un 
precedented dislike for their mothers-in-law due, no doubt, 
to the prevalent matriarchal order of American society. 



60 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

tern of standardization remained. This accounts for the 
fact that all American men eat the same food, drink the 
same liquor, wear the same clothes, and make passes at 
women forty-one minutes after they are first introduced 
to them. 6 

Once in America, the immigrants naturally disliked it. 
They disliked each other even more. Being a stubborn 
lot, they refused to admit that they had made a mistake. 
So they stayed, a prey to mixed emotions all aggressive. 
They hated the countries from which they had come, be 
cause these countries had permitted them to leave* They 
hated them, again, for not letting them go back. They 
not only hated the other immigrants, they had profound 
contempt for others clearly as silly as themselves. And 
they hated themselves for their own lack of intelligence. 

In line with these aggressive feelings, the few Ameri 
cans who could write 7 began to send long, glowing let 
ters to people in Europe, describing their new land in 
exaggerated and inaccurate terms. (See Exaggeration, 

e Women make passes at men in approximately thirty-two 
minutes. This also has something to do with "Female, 
American, predominance of" but as no European observer 
has yet published his findings on it, it is not possible to be 
more precise here. 

7 Vulgarly known as "the Scribes* as opposed to "the Phari 
sees" two unique groupings of Americans which, under 
other names, have persisted to this day, e.g. high-brows and 
low-brows, introverts and extroverts, Republicans and Demo 
crats, the elect and the electorate, lawyers and clients. See 
also Lawyers, American, Strange Ubiquity of- 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 6l 

American.) When these innocents arrived abroad, the 
Americans used to greet them at the docks, yelling: "One 
born every minute." The new immigrants thus entered 
the American spider-web of hatred and aggression* Al 
most everyone not born in America was enticed there by 
someone else, eager to make others share his misery. The 
very first settlers were enticed by explorers like John 
Smith, who in turn was lured by an American woman, 
Pocahontas who had been there all the time anyway, 
and was tired of it. 

So year after year America was filled with disillusioned 
immigrants who came expecting a land in which the 
streets were paved with gold- Instead they found only a 
land flowing with milk and honey. Many European ob 
servers must have had the experience of seeing an Amer 
ican in a bar turn to another American, say "I don t like 
your ugly mug" and as the Americans say "smash his 
face in/* Some Americans resent this, especially if the 
attacker is a stranger. But if he explains as he hauls his 
victim to his feet, "You look like a Pole, and my great 
grandfather came to Toledo because of a letter from his 
brother, who was a Pole," the other American is usually 
apt to be forgiving. After all, he himself is probably 
looking for the descendant of the French Huguenot 
whose prose seduced his own ancestors. 

The early settlers soon discovered lhat this aggression 
was a dangerous thing. If carried to extremes, it might 
depopulate the country, and there would be no one left 
to lure new immigrants. So Americans began very early 
to hide their aggressions under cloaks of love, affection 



^2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

and indulgence. Moreover, some of the settlers had re 
tained bits and pieces of purely European culture, among 
them scattered fragments of the Bible. They were thus 
able to make Americans feel guilty about their own 
hatreds. 

For both these reasons the Americans tried to act as 
they thought people would act if they really liked each 
other. Naturally, not* liking each other at all, they 
tended to overdo it hence the great surface friendli 
ness, hospitality, generosity, heartiness, sociability and 
so on, which are popularly supposed to characterize 
Americans. These are simply the means of hiding from 
other Americans, and from strangers, the aggressions 
and hatreds which Americans really feel. 

Full of aggression, milk, honey, Indian corn, tobacco, 
turkey, and guilt, the new arrivals looked around for 
something to do. They needed something which would 
take up their time and provide an outlet for their ag 
gression. Luring immigrants was all right in its way, but 
it did not take up enough time. And after all, there 
was a limit to the number of immigrants who could be 
transported in any one year. 

So the Americans transferred their hatred to the land 
itself. They tore down trees which had been peacefully 
growing for centuries. They stopped rivers from flowing 
home to the sea. They tore up prairie grasses. They let 
the winds and rains wash away the best soils. Wherever 
there had been something before, they either removed 
it or remodelled it. Where there had been nothing, 



JTHE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 6$ 

they put something even if it was only an abandoned 
copper mine or a city of five million people. 

Here is the core of the spirit of American capital 
ism; 8 here, the reasons for American activity and, in 
cidentally, superabundant energy. But the Americans 
soon became attached to their building, chopping and 
changing, forgetting the reasons why they had em 
barked on these tasks in the first place. Zealously they 
erected log cabins, made beaver hats, hunted buffalo, 9 
brewed corn liquor and bred jumping frogs. 

They produced so much in a short time that the goods 
began to crowd the settlers out of the country. This led 
to the forced consumption which is an integral part of 
the American culture and which impinges on the child 
from the hour of his birth. (See Industry.) And it also 
led to the other fundamental fact of American society: 
its domination by women. 

From the beginning, American men found themselves 
very busy, (they still are, and will probably always be 

8 What grew from this core has been described in Chapter 
II above. 

9 A native American animal, once nearly extinct. The Amer 
icans, feeling guilty about its near-extinction and the near- 
extinction of the Indian (see Indians, Disposal of), have 
commemorated both in a single coin, the "buffalo nickel." 
This coin, worth about three-pence, has a buffalo stamped 
on one side and an Indian head on the other. This is an 
example of an early American labour-saving device. 



64 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

busy*) They were therefore too busy to write letters to 
entice immigrants; and they were unable, anyway, to 
bear children- Immigrants and children were needed 
to share the unfortunate fate of people already in 
America and to consume what American men were pro 
ducing (see preceding Chapter), If the women had re 
fused to write the letters and/or to bear the children, 
American civilization would have come to a dead stop. 
It would never have started. The women knew this. 
The men soon learned* They surrendered uncondi 
tionally to the women- And the latter have run the 
country ever since. 

One would not expect, under these circumstances, to 
find egalitarian marriages which are genuine partner 
ships between husband and wife. Nor can there be any 
doubt who runs the American home. It is not, however, 
correct to say that the American male performs a rdle 
analogous to that of the male spider. The American 
man does not die after sacrificing his time and pleasure 
in performing his relatively unimportant function in 
the begetting of the child. But since his other functions, 
in addition to the breakneck consuming of goods, con 
sist largely of making a living, mowing the lawn, drying 
the dishes, taking the dog for a walk, beating carpets 
and getting drunk, it is no exaggeration to say he 
might just as well be dead. 

The American woman is America. She performs all 
the important functions in American life. She not only 
gives birth to the children; she supervises their up- 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 65 

bringing, 10 does the cooking, 11 cleans the house, drives 
the family car 12 and so on. In short, she does everything 
of major importance in American life except the things 
already noted. In other words, women do not occupy the 
leading positions in business, industry, finance, law, the 
armed forces, medicine, university teaching, the police 
force, architecture, politics, religion, etc. 

Naturally, the American man is strongly and con 
stantly repressing his inner rebellion against this domi 
nation by women. He particularly resents his wife, who 
both dominates him and does not understand him. The 
clearest proof of this is the American man s violent 
pursuit of all women whenever he is away from home. 

In reality, the war permitted American men to be 

10 Everyone in Europe knows that American children are 
badly brought up* This is because their parents bring them 
up themselves instead of using nannies and boarding 
schools. 

11 Men are occasionally permitted to help with this on spe 
cial occasions like Sundays and holidays; also to do the sim 
pler things, like making breakfast for their wives in the 
mornings. All breakfasts have to be simple in America so 
that men can make them, of course. 

12 Very often, in the movies, the man will be shown driving 
the family car, American men do sometimes get to handle 
the family car (as distinguished from police cars, trucks and 
other cars used in the line of business). But all the interest 
ing driving is done by the women: taking the children to 
school, driving from shop to shop, and so on. 



66 AMERICANS IN Gl-ASSHOUSES 

free and happy in other lands and with other women for 
the first time in their lives. 18 They were therefore as 
is well known extremely reluctant to get back home. 
Seen in this light, their constant expressions of home 
sickness, their constant display of pictures of mothers, 
sweethearts, wives and children, and the riots among 
troops ostensibly clamouring to be returned to America, 
take on a new meaning. These were actually symbolic 
of deep almost pathological feelings of guilt, caused 
by the knowledge of their own lapses, vis-a-vis their 
homes, their families, and above all their women. 

Americans have children by the same process that 
Europeans use. But, as has been explained, they have 
them for entirely different reasons. They consequently 
feel quite differently about them and toward them. 

Americans have children in order to make more peo 
ple undergo life in America, to provide consumers for 
the products of capitalist enterprise, and to outdo 
their neighbours (see Chapters I and II). Their feelings 
toward their children are therefore a curious compound. 
They love them because the children will share the 
burden of consumption with them. So they naturally 
love most the child who consumes the most. They also 
love the child successful in other competitive fields 
LG., the one who does the most of anything* They hate 
them for being unintelligent enough to get themselves 
born in the American wilderness. And they feel guilty 

11 Besides, they could make higher "date-rating scores" 
abroad. (See Chapter I.) 



THE WAV THEY LIVE TOGETHER 6j 

toward them for having made them Americans and for 
not loving them enough. 

Accordingly, American parents habitually over 
indulge their children, in order to compensate for their 
ambivalence toward them (*,., mixture of love and 
hate). Parents in America are never able to give their 
children what the children most crave: real love and 
a surcease from constant consumption. 14 Instead, they 
give them things the child does not prize at all: toys, 
books, dolls, dump trucks, Meccano sets, rocking horses, 
bicycles, roller skates, footballs, baseballs and musical 
mugs. 15 

The American child is thus insecure from birth. He 
realizes from the beginning that his parents cannot 
really love him, and that they can only half-heartedly 

14 American parents further feel guilt at the thought of what 
they feed their children in the early months. That is, milk 
and often, milk and honey. But there is so much milk in 
America that it must be disposed of, and obviously no one 
would drink it if he hadn t become used to the taste very 
early in life. So American parents really have no choice. 
Hence the gross overfeeding of milk to children and adults 
in America. 

15 The passion of Americans (of all sexes) for musical things 
musical mugs, cigarette boxes, powder boxes and less 
mentionable objects is interesting but difficult to under 
stand. It is not to be confused with an interest in music. 
Americans never listen to the tunes played by these musical 
gadgets, especially since they all play the same ones. The 
gadget is the important thing. 



68 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

love him if he is a successful consumer from the begin 
ning and successful numerically in other things later 
on. So he suffers from marked feelings of inadequacy 
throughout life. Americans seldom have a real sense of 
personal worth, as Europeans understand the term. 16 

American children already suffer from grave feelings 
of guilt caused by repressed aggression. The aggressive 
feelings begin when, on opening his mouth to utter his 
first cry, the child finds himself being fed. They deepen 
when he hears his mother s voice, trained for presiding 
at meetings of women s clubs. By the time he sees 
his father chewing gum, the baby s life-long pattern has 
been set: insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, rejection 
of the past, 17 hostility and guilt. 

In these early weeks, too, the child unconsciously 
learns the differences in status and function between the 
sexes in American society (see American Children, 
Precociousness of). In the hospital, he sees mainly the 
mother and the nurse. The father is kept out of the 
nursery by a plate of glass which anyone but an Ameri 
can father could, and would, break. (But women put it 
there!) If, as occasionally happens, the child is born at 

16 Americans of all types, in their insecurity, demand con 
stant reassurance of their own identity. Hence the abnormal 
demand for initialled articles of all kinds. Many wealthy 
Americans have small personal photographs on all their 
belongings. 

"That is, of his parents. (For additional information on 
rejection of the immigrant father, see Chapter II.) 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 6$ 

home, it usually takes him no time at all to understand 
the position of the male in the American society. 

A grave problem is created in the American home by 
the fact that there are two sexes. So great is her guilt 
that the mother tends to over-indulge children of both 
sexes. But that is only part of the picture. As Freud 18 
has so correctly said, there is an Oedipus situation which 
makes her strongly attached to her son. She is also 
jealous of her daughter, a potential rival for the love of 
the husband. 1 * 

However, the mother s tendency to indulge her son 
at the expense of her daughter is opposed by her knowl 
edge of the rdle the boy must play later, and by her 
awareness of the important position of women in 
America. The mother, like most Americans in conflict 
about most things, is also constantly uneasy about her 
treatment of her children. 20 

18 Freud, Sigmund: An Austrian psycho-analyst whose works 
are available in the collected edition in all American drug 
stores, and some bookstores. 

19 This is the traditional Freudian explanation. In America, 
it is somewhat modified by the cultural pattern. Thus, the 
mother s real jealousy is less because of the daughter s ri 
valry for the father s love, and more because of the daugh 
ter s rivalry for the post of Madame Chairman at women s 
club meetings. 

20 Thus, American family life is at its worst when the family 
contains children of both sexes; better when the children 
are of the same sex; better still when there is an only child; 
and best of all when there is no family. 



yo AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Naturally, the American boy has great difficulty in 
adjusting himself to the part he is expected to play. He 
often grows up without a clear understanding of his 
rdle. Marriage in Europe often a shock to the young 
and inexperienced girl in America proves a shock to 
the young man* He must adjust himself to an entirely 
new relationship. He often finds the honeymoon as well 
as the first year or eighteen months of married life very, 
very difficult. However, he receives constant advice and 
encouragement from his wife, his mother, his young 
grandmothers, his wife s mother, his schoolteacher (see 
Education, Prevalence of Female Teachers in), his 
sisters, his wife s sisters and in some cases from his 
mother s sisters and his wife s mother s sisters. 

So most American young men do succeed in working 
out a fairly satisfactory adjustment to their marriage 
within the first year. Those who do not and they are 
few find a solution in completely abjuring relations 
with the other sex. Or else they openly admit their 
neurotic inability to adjust by marrying European 
women. 21 

The young American man is seldom left unprotected 
in his marriage. The mother still regards him as her 
son, and is often willing to take his part against his wife. 
However, the wise mother is aware that the sooner 
her son conforms to the accepted standards the better 
the better both for him, and for her reputation as a suc- 

With these, of course, entirely different kinds of relations 
are possible. 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER J/ 

cessful mother. (The American man or woman is able 
to accept anything rather than failure. 22 ) Should her son 
find marriage, without any outside relaxations, simply 
too great a burden to be borne, she encourages him to 
find outlets in such all-male activities as Elks, Lions, 
Buffaloes, Kiwanis, the International Order of Odd 
fellows, and similar organizations. 23 The fierce animal 
names indicate compensation for the meek members. 
Home life in America is not as great a strain as might 
be expected from the kind of relationships described 
above. That is chiefly because there is so little of it. 
Children are encouraged to go their own ways from 
very early ages. So manifold are the activities of all 
members of the family that it is very seldom they all 
share a meal. (See Competitiveness.) The few family 
activities in which all participate are: quarrelling for 
right of first entry into the bathroom; 24 arguing about 

22 Because of their insecurity, Americans are entirely unable 
to accept failure in any form, even such a comparatively 
slight failure (to a more civilized European) as missing the 
eight-four train and being forced to wait for the eight- 
nineteen. The shrieks, stamps and groans occasionally 
even tears which even the most controlled Americans give 
way to on such occasions are highly revealing. 

23 Roaring the Lions* song, *Tm a Lion," at a cheery eight 
o clock breakfast, surrounded by men and by gallons of 
milk, the American man often finds release from the ten 
sions of married life. 

34 In those rare instances in which the home contains only 
one, (See below, this Chapter.) 



J2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

the right to use the car; 25 debating with the mother 
about spending money, 26 and over-eating together and 
giving presents on holidays. 

American holidays are eccentric. The most important 
ones are: the mother s birthday; Mother s Day; the 
birthdays of the female children; Washington s birth 
day; 27 Lincoln s birthday, 28 Labour Day (the symbolism 
here is obvious); Thanksgiving; Christmas; New Year s 
Day; and Groundhog Day. 

Christmas, now an almost forgotten religious festival 
(see Religion in America, Lack of Importance of) 
becomes a vast day of atonement. Americans use the 
device of Christmas not only to expiate .to their chil 
dren for not indulging them enough, but also to 
expiate to one another for hating one another so bit- 

**This takes place every evening in families with adolescent 
children. The father argues for decency s sake and the look 
of the thing, since his defeat is a foregone conclusion. 
26 The father s one responsibility is to make money. The 
mother and the children accept all the responsibilities of 
disposing of it. 

11 The real tribute here is to Martha Washington, George s 
wife, not to the so-called "Father of his Country." 
28 Two women are involved here, Lincoln s mother and his 
wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Lincoln s first love, Ann Rut- 
ledge, receives little attention. She is, in fact, held in some 
disrespect, since she so far deviated from the general pattern 
of American womanhood as to die before Lincoln did. 
American women do not consent to die before their men 
folk. 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 75 

terly. 39 Hence the orgy of gift-giving, parties, drinking 
and so on none of which Americans can be said to en 
joy. 

Gift-giving is very popular in America, because it al 
lows the people to engage in their three most necessary 
activities: consumption, competition and expiation. As 
a result, Americans make one another presents on all 
possible occasions and on some impossible ones. Ameri 
cans have been known to give escalators to Channel 
swimmers and cigars to men who have not become 
fathers. 

It will be seen that there is little to knit the modern 
American family together* The bonds of affection are 
weak. Families share few interests though each member 
of the family is usually interested in club activities, the 
movies, radio programmes, baseball, football, food, 
drink, and the lives of the people next door. 

In a typical American family, the father rises first. 
He makes breakfast, brings his wife her breakfast in 
bed, and calls the children to theirs, before leaving for 
work. The children go their separate ways without see 
ing each other. 30 

The mother finally gets up about ten o clock. She 

29 They also compete vigorously to see who can give and 
get the most presents, attend the most parties and, of 
course, eat and drink the most, And, of course (again), high 
consumption and "conspicuous waste" are greatly advanced. 

30 It is not considered wrong for them to greet one another, 
should they meet outside the bathroom or on the front steps. 



74 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

cleans the house 31 and goes into town to meet a friend 
for lunch. This friend is generally another female of 
her own age, so they can compare notes on their com 
petitive accomplishments. (For deviations, see Adultery, 
Female.) She then attends club-meetings (see below), 
plays bridge, or buys useless objects to help the family s 
consumption effort* 

In the evenings, she and her husband may enter 
tain friends; 32 or they may go to visit their own friends. 
On these occasions, husbands and wives seldom address 
a word to one another during the entire evening, un 
less they should have the misfortune to be partners at 
bridge, in which case the words are seldom terms of 
endearment. 

Most of the time and energy of American women is 
taken up by women s clubs. These offer excellent op 
portunities for the women to indulge in competition: 
in the number of clubs to which they belong, the num 
ber of activities (within each club) in which they 
participate, and the number of offices they hold. 33 

The power of these clubs in America is based on the 
fear American men have of their women. American men 

31 This seldom takes more than twenty minutes, since all 
houses are equipped with the latest labour-saving devices, 
including robots, i.e. mechanical domestic servants, 
S2 If the children do not need the house. 
38 That is why even the smallest clubs often have six or eight 
Vice-Presidents, in addition to the usual officers. 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 75 

frequently suffer from nightmares, 34 in which they 
dream they have been forced to make speeches before 
a women s club. To avoid having to do this, American 
men will do anything** Since the men in political 
power are also no exception to this rule, they are will 
ing to start policies, stop policies, change policies, start 
strikes, break them, etc. rather than make such a 
speech. So women s clubs are a powerful political 
weapon in the hands of American women. 

While the men and the women are busy in the ways 
described above, the children are leading exciting and 
competitive lives of their own (see Chapter I). They 
look to their parents for food, clothing, shelter, pocket 
money, and the family car, but for little else. 

Naturally, there are exceptions to this pattern. 
There are families who breakfast and dine together, 
some who go to the movies together, and some who 
even take their holidays together. But these are excep 
tions. Of the eleven average American families which 
have been carefully studied by qualified European ob 
servers, six followed the pattern described above in 
more or less detail, and only a minority of five deviated 
significantly. Four of the families came from Washing 
ton, B.C.; two from Silver Springs, Maryland; four 

84 The gender of this word is significant. 
35 In sharp contrast to British men, who can hardly be re 
strained from cadging invitations to lecture to Women s 
Institutes. 



7^ AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

from Baltimore, Maryland; and one from Elkton, Mary 
land; so they may be regarded as a fine representative 
ail-American sample. 

A few words must be said about the physical setting 
in which American family life takes place: the Ameri 
can home. American homes are designed to conceal 
from the members of the family the hollow emptiness of 
their personal relationships. The over-heated houses 
compensate for the warmth which is lacking in Ameri 
can life. American central heating is an attempt to 
make this artificial external warmth a substitute for the 
natural internal emotion which died out in pioneer 
days when there was, apparently, ample emotional 
warmth of all kinds, but no central heating. 36 

The ideal American home would really be one large 
room in which everyone lived and all activities took 
place. This is because of the American fear of being 
alone. It started when the early Americans were afraid 
they would have no one with whom to share their 
misery, and because Americans need other people 
around to assure themselves that they really exist. (See 
Chapter I.) The easiest way of achieving this is to make 
it necessary for the members of the family to be in full 
view whenever they happen to be home. This desirable 
objective has not yet been reached. Americans make up 

86 This explains why American homes are kept at tempera 
tures in the high eighties or low nineties, even during the 
summer months. 



THE WAY THEY LIVE TOGETHER 77 

for it, at present, by occupying quarters as cramped as 
possible. 

If they have the misfortune to live in a big house, 
they frequently shut off all but two or three rooms; 
the entire family then lives in these. In big cities 
especially, Americans prefer to live in small flats. The 
standard American fiat contains a living-room, a dining- 
room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and as many bathrooms 
as possible. The same is true of the average separate 
dwelling, generally called a bungalow. The most impor 
tant room in the house is the bathroom, and it receives 
the most attention. Americans are seldom satisfied if 
this room contains only a bath, and tend to insist on a 
shower as well. Some Americans of the wealthier classes, 
indeed, insist on two tubs in the same bathroom (see 
Loneliness, American Fear of). 

Every American above the age of four is remarkably 
well-informed about plumbing* The need for constant 
bathing (to wash away guilt, symbolically) is perhaps 
too obvious to require discussion. Important also is the 
need to aid the economy by using up as many showers, 
tubs, and bathroom gadgets as possible. A sample gadget 
is the popular "soapon-a-string-to-swing-in-the-shower." 
This has the merits of melting rapidly, being utterly 
useless before it melts, and of using up soap, string, 
space, and time. 

Americans above the age of five are almost as well- 
informed about methods of refrigeration as about 
plumbing. Good refrigeration is necessary in order to 



7# AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

provide the vast quantities of iced drinks which Ameri 
cans imbibe. Vast quantities of iced drinks are needed 
because Americans are constantly over-heated, from the 
outside inwards* In this way a vicious circle is created. 
The chill in human relationships (see Sex, Unsatis 
factory Nature of) makes over-heated homes necessary; 
over-heated homes make cold drinks necessary; cold 
drinks make refrigerators necessary; refrigerators add to 
the chills prevailing in human relationships which 
necessitate over-heated homes and so it goes on. 

An American psychiatrist once wrote a book called 
The Happy Family. It was not the statement of a fact, 
but of an ideal. 



IV 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 



AMERICANS are the unhappiest people in the world. 

This is evident to any observant European. Even be 
fore he understands the nature of their family life, their 
personality, and their economic system 1 he knows 
whether he spends a few days in the noisy stridency of 
America or not just how unhappy the people must be. 

The very atmosphere is a mixture of the noise given 
off by radio commentators, jazz-bands, electric clocks, 
automatic feeding machines, swaying skyscrapers (see 
below) and drunks reeling out of bars. The continuous 
noise hides from people their hatred of this mechanical, 
contrived and non-spontaneous culture in which they 
must produce, consume and compete till they die. 

As is also well known to Europeans, Americans do not 

1 "No one should have to see America for the first time." 
Pandit Nehru, quoted in the Archaeological Journal, Time* 

81 



$2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

converse. They talk, especially in suburbia (see below). 
If they conversed, someone might explain to someone 
else how unhappy he was, and why. The word 
might get around, and Americans might decide to 
withdraw from their suffocating economic wealth into 
an ordered and planned austerity. They might become 
human beings. They might develop a non-material 
side to their nature, their culture, and their consump 
tion alike. They might grow souls. 

It is with this in mind that one must consider the 
American cultural wilderness. 

AMERICAN CULTURE: THE PRINTED WORD 
NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES 

American capitalists long faced one grave problem: 
practically everyone could read. This meant there 
was a danger that people would begin to read books 
which would tell them how miserable they were. 2 But 
the capitalists managed to turn the threat into an ad 
vantage. They persuaded Americans that literary merit 
must be judged by size Le. 9 number of pages alone. 
(See Numbers, American Obsession with.) They 
were so successful that people began to demand bigger 
and bigger newspapers, magazines and books. So the 

2 This danger became acute when an ex-Scottish capitalist 
traitor called Andrew Carnegie contributed some ill-gotten 
gains to found a chain of public libraries. He was afterwards 
compelled to offset the effects in America by contributing 
funds to open libraries in Britain and other countries. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 8y 

capitalists were able to waste natural resources 
particularly the forests very quickly. 

Since the boss-class naturally controls what is printed 
(see Industry), they have been able to debase what 
would have been the natural good taste of the Ameri 
can people that is, had the people ever been free to 
develop their natural good taste. The corruption of 
American standards is evident in their daily "tabloid" 
picture papers, which print sensational crime and sex 
stories, often illustrated with semi-obscene pictures. 8 

American newspapers are so huge and unwieldy that 
Englishmen often wonder how Americans manage to 
read them. It is simple. They don t. Moreover, American 
newspapers are not supposed to be read. The editors 
merely fill the requisite quantity of large pages with 
foreign news, analyses of currency and production 
problems or the full texts of treaties, agreements, debates 
and political speeches. The British, who do expect their 
papers to be read, seldom waste space this way. 4 

Americans generally glance at the numerous adver- 

3 In Britain, where people are free to develop their natural 
tastes, the circulation of the Sunday News of the World is 
barely eight million, and of the Daily Mirror a mere four 
and a half million. 

4 When the supply of newsprint to British papers was in 
creased, for example, they wasted little space printing longer 
Parliamentary reports or foreign news. Instead, they in 
creased the amount of sports news, racing results, advertise 
ments, and features. 



8j AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

tisements in their papers* Having been corrupted to the 
point where they know they must consume, they like to 
feel they have some kind of choice as to what they will 
consume (see Industry). They also read the "want-ads" 
(since, as Europeans know, millions and millions of 
Americans are always unemployed 5 ) and the syndi 
cated columnists, and ignore the rest of the paper. 

Columnists serve two functions in America, Because 
the people are at once too tired and too poorly-educated 
to form their own opinions, columnists provide opinions 
on all subjects, "off the peg," 6 In this way they are quite 
similar to political parties in Britain. So important are 
columnists that few major decisions are taken by Amer 
ican business or political leaders without consulting 
them. As the columnists seldom agree among them 
selves, this accounts in part for the contradictory and 
confusing nature of American policy. 7 

As has already been explained, Americans like to feel 
that they know a lot of people preferably more than 

5 Or expect to be, from reading British periodicals which 
tell them they are going to be. (See American Industry.) 
e Tailored by the boss-class. 

7 Lack of agreement among columnists is also valuable in 
giving the aggressive Americans (see Chapters I and II) 
another way of quarrelling. For example, an irate stock 
broker can say to a trade unionist, "Walter Lippman, June 
sgrd to you!" to which the answer might be, "And Drew 
Pearson, July ist to you, too!" 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 8$ 

anyone else* Columnists cater to this American peculi 
arity by regularly revealing the most private and inti 
mate details about the famous. This leads Americans 
to believe not only that they themselves know a lot of 
people, but that they know a more important lot of peo 
ple than anyone else. Most Americans feel it quite 
legitimate to number anyone whose name they have 
read four times in the same column among their friends. 
So when as frequently happens they make lists of 
their friends to reassure themselves that they have 
enough they always include the people they have met 
in gossip columns. 8 

In this way, all Americans are deluded into believing 
that they are on close terms with the ruling class. As this 
helps keep down working-class discontent, 9 the ruling 
classes co-operate willingly in the deception, and with 
indecent haste and even with importunity reveal the 
most intimate details of their personal lives to journal 
ists. 10 It is customary for the most co-operative among 
the boss-class to learn that they are to have children, be 



s Feeling they are friends with the famous, Americans go so 
far as to speak of many statesmen, movie stars, generals, 
athletes, gangsters, and crooners by their Christian names, 
or even by nicknames a custom unknown elsewhere. 
Constantly being fanned by news reports of far better 
working-class conditions abroad, 

10 To be mentioned frequently by three or more columnists 
is the American equivalent for being in the Honours List. 



86 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

divorced, get a new job, or go bankrupt when they open 
their newspapers. 

American magazines, like newspapers, are large, nu 
merous and blatant. The most important, naturally, 
are women s magazines (see Women, Role of, Chapter 
III). Besides stories which are later dramatized into 
soap-operas (see below), women s magazines have sug 
gestions for feminine beauty culture, 11 and advice on 
planning, building, furnishing and running a house. 12 

Picture magazines are also popular, because they are 
practically comic books particularly when they are os 
tensibly serious. 

Finally, there are the news magazines of which one of 
the most important is Time. Time s gentle humility has 
long endeared it to millions of many-sided Americans 
with wide interests and a taste for standardized icono- 
clasm. They are, however, mystified and hurt by their 
inability to learn who edits and publishes it. 13 Occa 
sionally suspected of being pro-Communist because of 
the great amount of space and emotion it devotes to the 
Party, Time is in fact the only effective bulwark today 

11 Englishwomen rightly believe that American women spend 
too much time trying to beautify themselves. This process 
is not popular in England. 

12 The result is that practically all American homes look 
alike so much alike that people often go to bed in other 
people s houses not realizing what they are doing. 

18 There is an unconfirmed rumour that it is published by 
a white-bearded Chinese mandarin. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 8*J 

protecting the American Way of Life from foreign ide 
ologies. 14 

There are also many other periodicals, most of which 
do not circulate outside America. Movie and story 
magazines (mysteries, true confessions, horror tales) 
have the greatest influence. All others are unimpor 
tant. 15 

LITERATURE 

Comic books form the staple reading-matter for 
Americans. They are well-suited to the intelligence of 
the people, since they require only a basic vocabulary of 
five hundred words. The most popular type of comic 
book tells a little story to advertise cereals or disinfect 
ants. 

Comic books and their diluted form, the daily news 
paper comic strips are enormously popular. The prob 
lems, dilemmas and quandaries of their characters have 
stopped Congressional speeches, caused mutinies, pro 
voked strikes, and raised riots. The artists of the strips 
and books enjoy special police protection, and get spe 
cial treatment by the police. Some of the more edu 
cated Americans (but see Education, American, Low 
Standards of) prefer books known as "best sellers/* A 

14 Considering the ability of the editors of Time to detect 
pro-Communist trends in astronomy, pediatrics, flower- 
arrangement and swan-counting, the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation would seem to have little to do. 

15 The others include literary and critical periodicals, art 
and music magazines, professional journals, etc* 



88 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

"best seller" is at least two thousand pages long, no 
other book being eligible* Best sellers may be on any 
subject, provided they are not subversive. If the book 
can be carried only by Americans who weigh between 
twelve and fourteen stone, it is considered a huge suc 
cess. If it can be carried only by Americans who weigh 
over fourteen stone, it is a colossal success. 16 

There is a realistic branch of American literature 
called "muck-raking." The "raking" is the writing. The 
"muck" is the dirty American linen. Although often 
written by American deviants (see Chapter VI), these 
books are generally only published in Europe, and only 
read there. In this way, any European who has read 
Upton Sinclair s The Jungle,, Erskine Caldwell s To 
bacco Road, John O Hara s Butter field 8 and Harriet 
Beecher Stowe s Uncle Tom s Cabin knows much more 
about America than any American. 

AMERICAN CULTURE 
SPORT, MUSIC, ART, RADIO, CINEMA 

National cultures generally reflect the dominant sex. 
British and European culture is recognizably mascu 
line. But American culture is an exception. It is not 
virile and aggressive, like its women. It is like its weaker 
sex: American men. It is passive. Americans of both 
sexes are so tired by constant competition, consumption, 
and production that they lack the energy to participate 

1C I it cannot even be lifted by a circus strong man, the 
writer is instantly given a seat on the Stock Exchange. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 



in culture. Sometimes, in rare bursts of activity, they 
may indulge in a semi-savage form of dancing called 
"jitter-bugging/ But the active participation of all Rus 
sians 17 or all British 18 in their national cultures has no 
American counterpart. Americans, unlike the British, 
amuse themselves by watching others perform (for ex 
ceptions, see Americans, Sexual Habits of). 
SPORT: In America, sport is not really sport (as Euro 
peans understand it) but a means of compensating for 
the frustrations which are so common in other aspects 
of American life. For this reason, unlike the British, 
the cruder and aggressive Americans play to win. The 
British and other Europeans, remembering Marshall 
Aid, are often sensible enough to let them win as, for 
example, in the Olympic games. 

Americans display various types of poor sportsman 
ship, in addition to trying to win. One is their tendency 
to excuse defeats by saying that they played badly, as 
opposed to the more courteous British practice of ex 
plaining cricket losses by "a sticky wicket" and all Brit 
ish defeats at the hands of Americans by the greater 
American diet. 19 The notorious American habit of jeer- 

17 As exemplified in May Day parades and films of Armenian 
folk-dancing. 

18 In the great national sport queue-standing which has 
many more participants than the Cup-Tie final or the Derby 
has watchers. 

19 No British player would ever insinuate he was in any 
way responsible for his side s defeat. 



po AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

ing at the referee 01 umpire 20 is also unknown in 
Britain. 

The American national sport is baseball. It is a dull 
game, resembling rounders. The game is played by chil 
dren in England. It takes professional players years of 
training to be able to play it at all in America. The base 
ball season begins in April and closes in September, 
with a play-off between the best teams in each of the 
two major leagues. Although the Russians who invented 
baseball (see Chapter II), and the Japanese who per 
fected it, are never invited, this is persistently called the 

"World Series" by Americans. 21 
,/ 

Because Americans cannot play anything more skilful 
than baseball, they try madly to get other countries to 
play the same game. Only the strongest resistance on 
the part of the Royal Family and the Prime Minister 
kept a clause out of the American Loan and Marshall 
Plan agreements by which Kensington would have re 
placed the Cincinnati Red Sox as one of the American 
major league baseball teams. 22 

Football and basketball are America s next most 
popular sports. They are played in the winter, largely 
by American universities which hope to compensate by 

20 Americans equate boorish behaviour at games with politi 
cal and economic freedom. 

21 Symbolic of the American s conception of the world (see 
the American sporting magazine, Time). 

22 It is a bit difficult to understand why a Labour Prime 
Minister should want to keep Kensington. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX pX 

athletic achievement for their lack of academic distinc 
tion. Though American capitalists do contribute to Uni 
versities at times, they are apt to be erratic in their 
benevolence; 23 so the average American university de 
pends on a winning football or basketball team to at 
tract paying spectators and bring in the money to pay 
its teachers. For this reason, athletic coaches are usually 
paid a sum equal to the salaries of the entire academic 
faculty multiplied by ten. Most American colleges also 
hire brawny young coal miners 24 to enroll and play in 
their football teams. This is what Americans mean by 
"working your way through college." 
MUSIC: Although Americans have symphony orchestras, 
choirs, instrumental soloists, singers, jazz-bands and 
pianolas, the highest expression of American musical 
talent is the "singing telegram." This was invented by 
an American called Daniel Boone Crockett. 

Crockett was, in his early days, the possessor of a 
large block of telephone-company shares. The shares 



^American capitalists are erratic in their benevolence, be 
cause they like to worry the Bureau of Internal Revenue by 
suddenly giving large sums to Universities, so preventing 
the Bureau from collecting at least part of the sum in taxes. 
This unco-operative attitude toward paying taxes has no 
equivalent in Britain* 

24 For this reason, few American University presidents ever 
openly condemn the activities of John L. Lewis (the Amer 
ican Coalminers* leader), and he is frequently offered hon 
orary degrees (see Politics^ 



$2 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

were doing badly on the Stock Exchange. As the trans 
atlantic system had not yet been established, the only 
people to whom Americans could talk on the telephone 
were other Americans. As Americans do not converse, 
the early American telephone call was apt to be brief 
and brisk, and the future of telephony in America some 
what cloudy. 

Crockett had the original idea of singing a telegram 
over the phone to the addressee. He started modestly 
enough by offering a solo-voice greeting only. So popu 
lar was his invention, however, that he was soon able to 
provide a quartet, an a cappella choir, or a mixed chorus 
with orchestra. This kept Americans on the telephone 
longer, and the telephone companies made money. It 
did nothing to increase the danger that Americans 
might become a nation of conversationalists. It taught 
them to work out cross-word puzzles, doodle, or buy 
shares while ostensibly listening to the telephone. 25 
And it led to "music while you work." 

Encouraged by his success, Crockett expanded the 
tunes and the types of messages carried by the "singing 
telegram/ It is now possible to send a message of con 
dolence, intoned to a Bach chorale, or to have a "re 
quest number" of eight hundred Jersey cows moo-ed 
from Wyoming to Kentucky. So the highest ambition of 
an American composer is to compose singing tele- 

55 It was also a valuable training for American men, as their 
wives generally use the telephone to call and give advice. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX $j 

grams. 2 * A close second is to be chosen to write "singing 
commercials" (see below, this Chapter). Unsuccessful 
American musicians are forced to write popular musi 
cal comedies. 27 The least successful of all compose 
music for the Boston Symphony Orchestra but first 
have to emigrate to Europe. 

ART: American poverty in the field of creative art is 
evident. Their architecture consists mainly of large, 
box-like structures called with typical American ex 
aggeration "sky-scrapers." 2S They have no castles of 
their own, save what they have imported (see 

26 The man or woman who composes "The Telegram of the 
Year * is given a life-pension, an American flag, and ten 
yards of telephone wire made up to resemble D. B. Crockett. 

27 That is, popular in America. American musical comedies 
are not popular elsewhere. The apparent success of some 
American musical comedies (Oklahoma, Annie Get Your 
Gun, Brigadoon, Dark of the Moon, etc.) in London is be 
cause the British, wishing to have Marshall Aid continued, 
want to flatter the Americans and make them happy. As, 
even for Marshall Aid, the British cannot compromise with 
their consciences to the extent of pretending to like Ameri 
can films, they have selected American musical comedies 
as the best things to say they like. 

28 These skyscrapers, as the Russian journalists who visited 
New York in 1948 noted, swing and creak noisily in the 
wind, adding to the prevailing American din, and increas 
ing American insecurity. (See also, Skyscrapers, Americans, 
Storage Functions of.) 



$4 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Chapter I)* They have nothing which resembles either 
the Albert Hall or the Albert Memorial. 29 

American art reaches its zenith in the animated or 
moving neon-sign. Because of the nature of American 
life, Americans would like nothing better than not to 
exist. 50 That is why they are so partial to the comic- 
strips and the animated neon sign. The people in them 
do not really exist at all. Since Americans cannot "non- 
exist" themselves though many more succeed in doing 
it per annum than in Europe they like to watch people 
who do not exist. They envy them. 

RADIOS: American radio is run by competing private- 
enterprise concerns, rather than intelligently, artisti 
cally and efficiently by a public monopoly, as in Britain* 
Most of the time on American radio is occupied with 
"commercials." 31 These are interruptions in a pro 
gramme to advertise the wares of the concern which has 
bought that portion of time on the air. 

"Singing commercials" are advertising announce 
ments set to music. Sometimes singing commercials are 
in the form of little rhymed jingles. These jingles are 
the Americans* poetry, and they are fond of them. They 

29 As the result of considerable effort, they have succeeded 
in creating several structures almost up to the standard of 
St. Pancras Station, London. 

30 Failing this, they favour returning to the womb. 

81 Announcements which describe in enthusiastically inac 
curate, and inaccurately enthusiastic, terms the products 
being advertised. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX P5 

are often heard to remark that they would rather hear a 
good singing commercial than "one of those operas by 
Benjamin Britten/ 

It is thought un-American not to listen to commer 
cials in reverent silence, though it is quite permissible 
to talk through a symphony concert. One of the men at 
present under investigation by the House Un-American 
Activities Committee was first suspected of un- 
American sentiments when it was noted that he habitu 
ally shut off his radio whenever a "commercial" or 
"jingle" began. 

American boorishness is evident in all discussion 
programmes on the radio. There are, of course, none of 
the vigorous, hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, spontane 
ous, unscripted, and unrehearsed political and economic 
discussions so frequently broadcast, and so popular, in 
Britain. Occasionally, when the Americans do try their 
hands at such a programme, their discussions end in 
sulky disagreement. In Britain, on the other hand, 
there is always general agreement at the end of any 
wireless discussion. 32 

The real triumph of American radio ( and of Ameri- 

32 This confuses some listeners, of course. Mistakenly, they 
have occasionally gained the idea that the speakers did not 
entirely agree as, for example, the Dean of Canterbury and 
the Archbishop. But all such apparent difficulties are swept 
away when the B.B.C. moderator says, "Actually, I believe 
all our speakers tonight agree in principle." Americans, hav 
ing no principles, cannot agree. 



96 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

can drama 33 ) is the "soap-opera/* a simple-minded 
serial story which runs on for years, generally ten or 
fifteen minutes a day or week, and paid for by the big 
soap companies as advertising. Usually, dozens of soap- 
operas are broadcast at the same moment. (No one has 
yet thought of putting them all out on the same wave 
length and the same time,) 

It is easy to explain the popularity of soap-operas by 
saying that they cater to the low intelligence of the 
American people; or that they give the bored American 
house wife 34 something to do; or that they provide a 
standardized day-dream for a standardized country. Even 
if true, these take a very superficial view of the reason 
for the success of the American soap-opera. 

It is successful because Americans fear loneliness and 
must have people around constantly (see Chapter I)* 
Listening to a soap-opera gives the American housewife 
the illusion that her house is filled with people, and 
makes her think that she is popular and well-loved. 35 
As housewives generally listen to the same programme 
for years, they come to feel that the characters in them 
are old friends, and often have trouble in distinguishing 

83 The most talented American playwrights write for radio 
or for Hollywood, The others are unimportant. 

34 Bored because labour-saving devices leave her with so 
much time on her hands in the mornings. 

35 If an American housewife is feeling particularly gloomy, 
she can turn her various radio sets to several programmes 
within the same half-hour, and get the illusion of being at 
a cocktail party. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX p7 

between the events in their lives and the events in 
those of their live friends. 

CINEMA: Superficial observers claim that Americans 
like American films. True, Americans pay, often and 
well, to get into American films. But it is wrong to 
assume that they do so because they enjoy them. 

If the American peqple had their way, 86 they would 
make, see and enjoy films truly representative of Ameri 
can life. They would see films about corrupt political 
machines; about share-croppers; about lynching, and 
the other evils which make up nine-tenths of American 
life. But they do not have their way. 

Americans continue to attend their inferior and de 
grading films for four reasons 37 : to escape from reality; 
to consume in comparative comfort; to watch the people 
on the screen wasting things at a rapid rate; and to get 
a discreet place for confidential conversation. 

But these reasons only explain why the mass of Ameri 
cans attend the movies. What about the intellectuals 
and the readers of progressive journals? (See Chap 
ter V.) 

These people do not attend American films. They 
only go to foreign ones. 88 For a time, Americans of 

36 That is, if the capitalists did not run the film industry. 

37 It is possible to dismiss at once the idea that they do so 
because they like the films. British critics have rendered 
great service in making the impossibility of this abundantly 
dear. 

88 British and other. 



g8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

this type did attend American films, considering them 
a form of folk art. But they have now been convinced 
by foreign intellectuals that this is no way to lead the 
masses. To lead the masses, one must be above what the 
masses consider their own pleasures. 39 

So the higher type of Americans, like all non- 
Americans, boycott American films. The queues lining 
up to see Ecstasy on the Escalator, in London, for ex 
ample, are illusory. They are entirely composed of visit 
ing Americans. 

To ensure that the films do not encourage Americans 
to think, the Wall Street bosses have laid down certain 
rules which must be followed in all American movies. 
European-produced films which deviate from these 
rules are severely censored if, in fact, they are per 
mitted to be shown at all. 

The following are some of the rules: 

1. Eighty-three per cent of all films must have a bed 
room scene. This is to encourage the national 
birth-rate, keep consumption high, and provide a 
pool of unemployed. 40 

2. Americans must never be shown reading 
books. 41 

**The masses respect you more that way, as any Socialist 
intellectual knows. 

40 On the other hand, love-making and female undress in 
films must be much more circumspect than in Britain. 
American men are very excitable. 

41 This rule gives no trouble. No real American is willing 
to be photographed reading a book. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX p 

3. If a bearded man is shown asleep, the beard must 
always be outside the covers. 

4. Any film character supposed to be worth three 
million dollars or more must be addressed by his 
initials and never called "Mister." 

5. Whenever a sunset is shown, characters must ride 
over a hill into it. 

This is only the beginning of a list running to thou 
sands of items. 

Discerning foreigners may have noticed that some 
American films do not follow these rules. That is true* 
The main point here is the one so cogently stated by 
the late Professor Laski: "Hollywood wants to preserve 
the status quo." * 2 

The trouble is that Hollywood does not know what 
the status quo is. 

SUBURBAN CULTURE: OR LIFE IN THE BUSH 

American society has one element in the status quo 
which is uncommon in Europe, and unheard of in Brit 
ain. That is, the presence of a number of persons who 
enjoy the thought that they are better than other men. 

Such people, who appear to set cultural standards in 
America, 43 usually live in peculiar packs, hordes, or 

42 Harold J. Laski, The American Democracy (New York, 
1948), page 694. 

43 At least, they take great pains to appear to set the cultural 
standards. 



100 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

swarms known as suburban communities. 44 Here, in 
towns ranging from 2,500 to 25,000, they nurse their 
feelings of superiority in modern one-family houses, 
some of which have as many as twenty rooms. These 
houses crouch, in constrained and prissy alignment, be 
hind maple-shaded macadam avenues, separated from 

44 Much of our knowledge of American suburban life stems 
from recent researches published by participants in a learned 
controversy in the American Sociological and Economic 
Gazette: C/. Himmelblau, H., Tentative Introductory Re 
marks on Defining a Suburban Town (April, 1935); Zan- 
gara, Z. A Few Prefatory Approximations to a Description 
of a Suburban Town (April, 1935); Abbeville, A., Some 
Insignificant Five-Syllable Words On What Constitutes a 
Suburban Town (April, 1935); Himmelblau, H., Some Final 
Notes on the Errors of Zangara and Abbeville in their Defi 
nitions of a Suburban Town (May, 1935); Zangara, Z., 
Ultimate Positive Errors in the Definitions of Himmelblau 
and Abbeville (May, 1935); Abbeville, A., A Rejoinder 
to Himmelblau and Zangara or Every Comma Defended 
(June, 1935); Himmelblau, H., On the Prevalence of Quacks 
and Witch-Doctors in the Field of Suburban Social Science 
(July, 1935); Zangara, Z., The Fatuousness of Recent Critics 
Or How Right I Was All Along (August, 1935); Abbe 
ville, A., I Can Lick Any Man In the House (September, 
1935)- 

The reader will have noticed, incidentally, that even 
American scholarship is competitive. (See Personality, The 
American, Chapter I.) 



TOE WAY THEY RELAX IOI 

the street by privet hedges, barberry hedges, and shrubs 
clipped to resemble bears. 

The American suburban town, unlike its British 
counterpart, is usually located near a city. 45 It can be 
physically distinguished from a city because one can see 
the sky without lying on one s back, the air contains 
traces of oxygen, and there are some shrubs. It would 
be difficult to decide, however, which is more unnatu 
ral: the American city which is utterly devoid of foliage, 
or the suburban town where plant life is trimmed, man 
icured, and cut short, like a tart s poodle. 46 The Ameri 
can suburb is a demonstration of the fact that, since 
the time of Pocahontas, Nature has taken a terrible 
beating from Americans. The coercion of coniferous 
growths into cute ordered echelons of evergreen medi 
ocrity reflects the spiritual corseting of human nature 
and its natural impulses, for which the American sub 
urb is notorious. It is, of course, difficult for the Brit 
ish reader conditioned to the roistering, libertine, 
Devil-may-care spontaneity of British suburbs to con- 



45 In England, where there is more respect for classical 
learning, suburbanites are properly located below (sub) 
the city (urbs). The word was coined by an early Roman 
who noted the weed-digging, mole-chasing propensities of 
British suburban gardeners. 

46 This simile is in fact inappropriate, since prostitution is 
illegal in America. So the position of a tart s poodle is rather 
difficult to live up to. 



102 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

ceive of such stultifying ordinariness and primness. It is, 
alas, not merely the distinction but the boast of the 
American suburb. 47 

The suburban community merits close attention be 
cause it is the only stable element in American society 
except, of course, the sixty families who rule America 
(see Chapter II). 48 It is stable largely because it is in 
ert, and it is inert largely because it is the home of the 
more successful. America s Suburbia is a social stud-pas 
ture to which those victorious in the urban steeplechase 
of consumption retire, burned-out but triumphantly 
self-satisfied, to breed others in their own image. 

The energy which suburbanites do not use in self- 
adulation is securely diverted from change or innova 
tion by the activity on which all suburbanites are en 
gaged twenty-four hours a day: the process of pretend 
ing they have souls. Suburbanites do not really have 
souls. To have a soul, as Europeans know, requires 
much suffering. Moreover, it requires one to be con 
scious how much he is suffering. Although Americans 

47 America s Suburbia could never boast such outspoken 
radicals as Karl Marx (Hampstead) or Sir Alfred Munnings 
(Essex). 

48 There is only one other element, and that is the city 
community which is hopelessly unstable, since it is organized 
according to the consuming competition described in Chap 
ters I and II. The old farm element has moved in to the city 
to write books glorifying the pleasures and humours of 
farm life. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 

constantly suffer, they do not know it. So they cannot 
have souls. 

Suburbanites, however, have heard that it is a good 
thing to have a soul, as Europeans do. So they pretend 
to have one, but with this difference: instead of believ 
ing that consciousness of suffering is the raw material 
of souls, American suburbanites believe that a feeling 
of superiority to others is a sign of having a soul. 49 

American suburbanites therefore devote all their 
time to appearing to be superior to others. This is quite 
in keeping with the basic motivations of the American 
personality (see Chapter I) and with the prestige-strug 
gle through over-consumption that most Americans fol 
low. American suburbanites who have succeeded in the 
consumption race compete to be socially and culturally 
superior to other suburbanites. 

This necessity to feel superior leads suburbanites into 
paradoxical behaviour. They make great show of feel 
ing superior to both urban and rural Americans- They 
tell city dwellers how much more ennobling it is to live 
in the country, close to nature. And they tell rural resi 
dents how much more gay and daring it is to live almost 
in the city. The fact is that contact with anything wilder 
or more natural than a caged and grammatical parrot 
scares them; and contact with anything more urbane 
than the second cousin of a ballerina bewilders them. 

49 Competing in this way for a soul in America is called 
"Keeping Up With the Joneses." "The Joneses" is American 
slang for the Trinity* 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Suburbanites sometimes flaunt their superiority to 
non-suburbanites, but spend most of their time trying 
to feel superior to one another, for having a soul in 
America is also a competitive undertaking. This ex 
plains why the most standardized and uniform people 
on earth try many bizarre ways of being distinctive and 
unlike their neighbours* 

One simple form of distinction-seeking is the furnish 
ing of the home. The wall-paper, for example, is con 
stantly replaced after calls on one s neighbours show 
that it is not as productive of uneasiness as theirs. Sub 
urbanites try to buy chairs that are less comfortable 
than those of their neighbours. Until recently, chairs 
with seats only a foot off the floor were most popular. 
This type has now given way to chairs of normal height, 
but with no backs. Another form of household distinc 
tion is to have everything possible made of glass except 
utensils that would normally be made of glass. Thus, 
modern American houses have glass walls, roofs, and 
floors, but no windows. At parties, drinks are served in 
plastic vessels, but are placed on glass tables. These pe 
culiar uses or misuses of glass suit Americans, who 
do not desire privacy, and from whom nothing can be 
kept in private. 

Suburbanites also seek distinction in gardening. Ev 
eryone tries to clip his hedge half a foot lower than his 
neighbour s, in order that more of his own affairs should 
be seen and known, and less kept private. The neigh 
bours, not to be outdone, decide to trim their hedge 
even lower. This goes on until both hedges are torn up, 



THE WAY THEY RELAX IQ*f 

new and high ones ordered and put in (thus helping 
waste), and the game begins again. 

Another method of attaining distinction is installing 
gadgets in automobiles. 50 Having a motor-pump in or 
der to squirt water on the windscreen of one s car was 
once considered distinctive in American suburbs. Now 
that these pumps have become standard equipment, 
suburbanites have substituted pumps which squirt wa 
ter at other people s cars. 

Cleanliness is another field in which suburbanites 
seek distinction. Since it is more distinctive for women 
to hint, rather than to say, that they have just had their 
hair washed and since suburban women have reached 
the point where this must be at least a daily process 
the current distinction is to appear at cocktail parties 
with wet hair that still contains shampoo suds* 

There is also distinction-seeking in health and illness. 
Neighbours frequently visit one another s houses and 
slip up to the bathroom so they can make notes on the 
potency of the vitamin pills they find there. Every sub 
urbanite buys vitamin pills by the sack. The search for 
stronger vitamin pills has led to the manufacture of 
some so potent that it requires special antidote pills to 
neutralize the effects. This is a notable American 

50 Suburbanites have already achieved superiority over non- 
suburbanites in the size of automobiles, so they do not com 
pete this way among themselves. That is why they have 
enormous "town cars" for driving in narrow crowded city 
streets, but small cars for the suburban country areas. 



106 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

achievement, which yields high marks for wasteful con 
sumption. 51 

American suburbanites will not have operations un 
less they have developed bigger and better appendices, 
or gall-stones, than the ones their neighbours had to 
have removed* Information on these matters, imparted 
(as usual) without secrecy or privacy, is communicated 
mostly at dinners, so that everyone knows what the ex 
isting record is for any type of diseased organ. The op 
timum distinction for illness in suburban communities 
is to be just far enough away from excruciating death to 
be able to tell others about it. 

The behaviour and conversation of American subur 
ban residents follows, with unswerving fidelity, the rules 
laid down by Suburbia s two Bibles, the Reader s Digest 
and The New Yorker. The former publication is popu 
lar with suburbanites firstly because it condenses to a 
fraction of the originals, and, second, because it puts 
into one volume stories about a wide variety of subjects. 
Suburbanites are unable to think or imagine for them 
selves; but the most important form of distinction in 
suburbia is cultural superiority (shown in talk). The 
Reader s Digest is thus the perfect cultural and intel 
lectual main-stay. 

The difficulty is that everyone in the suburban town 

61 Because it is a sign of having taken distinctively potent 
vitamin pills, Americans like to be tall and strong, a condi 
tion most European intellectuals view with suspicion or - 
condescension. 



THE WAY THEY RELAX 

reads the Reader s Digest. Consequently, talk at parties 
or at the country club is dull indeed for a visitor who 
happens to have read the current issue. Superiority was 
formerly shown by the ability to memorize longer pas 
sages from Reader s Digest articles than anyone else. 
But the number of persons who could quote the entire 
month s issue soon grew fairly large. From then on, sub 
urbanites competed for cultural superiority with their 
neighbours by repeating the contents of the magazine 
backwards, until even this became too common a skill. 

Superiority is now a rivalry in time. The first person 
to get and memorize a new copy of the Reader s Digest 
is for a few precious seconds the intellectual and cul 
tural leader of his community. His object is then to give 
a party as soon as possible, so that he can establish his 
tenuous superiority and, thereby, the vastness of his 
soul. Failing this, 52 he will go to a barber-shop, a drug 
store, country club, etc., and open up as many conversa 
tions as possible before his time runs out. It not infre 
quently happens that everyone else is frantically memo 
rizing the Readers Digest at this time and will not stop 
to talk with him. So it is sometimes necessary for the 
first man to gain his end by driving through the town 
reciting the contents of the current issue through a loud 
speaker system. 

Even the comparative stability of suburban life did 
not, however, go unchallenged by Americans. Most of 

52 That is, if he knows that he has only an hour s start on 
anyone else. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

them are mistrustful of anything stable, feeling that it is 
(or could become) old, and therefore suspect. It was 
this fear that prompted a group of writers to start The 
New Yorker, a magazine which mocks at some of the 
habits of suburban dwellers. 58 

In the beginning, the satirical attitude of The New 
Yorker made suburbanites uneasy and self-conscious. 
The women were made especially uncomfortable by its 
gibes at their dress, speech, clubs, gardens, servants, and 
cultural pretensions. But gradually they not only got 
used to it, but also came to see that The New Yorker 
had uses. It printed reviews of plays, books, concerts 
and films; described the smart shops and restaurants; 
and carried remarkably erudite and informative adver 
tisements. After reading it, suburban women could con 
verse on an even higher intellectual level. They became 
enthusiastic converts. They began to talk as The New 
Yorker critics wrote, 54 and to say that they themselves 

** European intellectuals many of whom admire The New 
Yorker rationalize this by saying that it is not at all like 
an American magazine. 

M A sample chat between two suburban matrons may illus 
trate this point: 

First suburban matron: "I see Gielgud s Hamlet is being 
put on. It is a play in which the plot flashes like a candle 
before the stentorian blasts of Mr. Gielgud." 

Second suburban matron: "Yes, it is running in New 
York now. My own view is that it is a play in which the plot 
flashes like a candle before the stentorian blasts of Mr. 
Gielgud." 



THE WAY THEY RE1AX 70p 

felt the way the magazine s critics said they felt. All this 
lifted suburban life to new heights* 

Suburban women were also able to use The New 
Yorker to pretend they had gone to concerts they hadn t 
heard, and to films and plays they hadn t seen;** to 
suggest they had dined in restaurants which they 
couldn t find even with the aid of a guide-book, and 
would be afraid to enter if they could.** 

By now, so many suburbanites have subscribed to the 
magazine that it cannot afford to stop printing the same 
things about suburbia. 57 

F.S.M.: "But what about the sets? I felt they were more 
like a Swedish bowling alley than a Danish castle/ 

S.S.M.; "I never thought about the sets before. My off- 
hand reaction is that they looked more like a Swedish bowl 
ing-alley than a Danish castle." 

55 No one in Britain would ever be guilty of such a breach 
of taste. That accounts for the striking absence of critics 
and critiques in the British Press (especially the weeklies) 
and the B.B.C. 

56 Naturally, they have to go to the city at least one day a 
week, to lend credence to the idea that they are leading a 
wildly cultural life. In fact, they spend most of their time 
in women s restaurants (called "Schrafft s") or in news-reel 
theatres. 

67 All people who do not read The New Yorker are forced 
to live in the suburban equivalent of city slums, referred to 
as "the wrong side of the tracks." Those who do not read 
the Reader s Digest either, are forced to live on the tracks. 
Neither group is permitted to own a station-wagon or join 
21 country club. 



//O AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

The great Monk scandal epitomises all this. It took 
place some years ago, when one of the theatre critics 
(Monk) got very drunk before an opening night. He 
then, as usual, wrote a review of the play before he had 
seen it, and went to sleep it off in a Turkish bath. His 
review was printed but as it happened the bailiffs 
took over the theatre and the play was not produced 
until the following season. Meanwhile suburbanites, not 
knowing this, carried on many intellectual discussions 
about the play, based on this critic s review. 

For punishment, Monk was forced to settle in Subur 
bia and vacate his cosy pied-a-terre in a Third Avenue 
bar. 

So even in Suburbia, Americans can never be safe* 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN 
THEMSELVES 



BECAUSE they all hate one another and have been cor 
rupted by the jungle-ethics of capitalism, Americans are 
notoriously a difficult people to govern. 

Europeans, who have long understood the American 
political system, have set forth with some vigour its two 
main postulates. First, Americans are too undisciplined, 
immature and competitively individualistic to have any 
real government at alL Second, the American Govern 
ment is the means by which the ruling capitalist class 
preserves its control, lynches Negroes, and secures suffi 
cient unemployment to keep those fully employed hard 
at work. 

These two postulates may seem contradictory; yet 
both are true. The point is that the capitalists actually 
do control America, by the methods described below. 
It is only the uninformed and gullible American people 
who believe they have control over their government. 

The ability of American capitalists to confuse the 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

populace and retain their power relies on many devices, 
among which the following are important: 

(a) Keeping the population ignorant and diverted. 

(b) Dividing the population against itself by en 
couraging hostility between the various racial 
groups, 1 the speaking of foreign languages, and 
the persecution of minorities, 

(c) Creating and controlling political bosses and 
political machines. 

(d) Keeping the so-called better element from en 
tering politics. 

Each of these points must be taken separately. When 
the background is sketched, the actual machinery which 
the capitalists use that is, the government itself will 
be comparatively easy to understand. 

(a) KEEPING THE PEOPLE IGNORANT AND DIVERTED 

Americans as is well known are very inaccurately 
informed abput the world and about their own country. 
Since Americans are a mongrel people (see below), 
they are not also a well-known fact as intelligent as 
people of pure lineage. 2 So by using a simple tech 
nique called poll-taking, the boss-class manages to divert 

1 For example, only national groups known to quarrel vio 
lently with each other in Europe, Asia, or Africa were per 
mitted to enter America. 

2 Like the British, whose stock includes only Celts, Romans, 
Danes, Saxons, Normans, Angles, Jutes, Picts, Scots, Irish, 
Welsh, Flemish, French Huguenots, and Bus Conductors. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES J/5 

and distract the people from a proper concern with 
economic and social problems. 

A poll is, of course, a survey of public opinion on any 
subject preferably an obscure one in which no one is 
interested. The indefatigable poll-taking by capitalist- 
lackeys 3 confuses the people by forcing them to an 
swer thousands of irrelevant and often intimate ques 
tions. 4 

More important, poll-taking exhausts the mental en 
ergy of the people. They have to have opinions on every 
possible subject, so that they do not disappoint the 
interviewers. 5 And this effort added to constant com 
petition and consumption so tires the people that they 
lack the vitality to consider the iniquities of their so 
ciety. 

(fr) CREATING DIVISION AND HATRED 

RACIAL HATOEDS: Since all Americans? are aggressive, 
and spend the time in which they are not consuming 

3 Called interviewers. 

4 Recent sample questions include: Would you have mar 
ried your husband (wife) if you had known him (her) be 
fore you married him (her)? Has a horse ever placed a bet 
on you? 

5 As a sanction, the boss-class (normally opposed, as is well 
known, to social services for the people) is considering send 
ing to asylums all people who answer "don t know" to more 
than nine consecutive polls. 

6 Properly speaking, of course, there are no Americans; 
merely the warring stocks described above. But the terms 



Jl6 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

and looking around for someone to hate (see Chapter 
II), it has been an easy matter for the capitalists to di 
rect and to encourage hatreds between national groups. 
There is, of course, a strong element of self-preservation 
in this. If Americans did not hate each other, they might 
begin hating the capitalists who boss them. 
THE NEGROES: Negroes have been in America almost as 
long as non-Negro settlers. The first blacks were 
brought to Virginia in 1619 by British sea captains 
whose hearts were touched by the deplorable conditions 
under which these people were living in their native 
Africa. 

But the early Americans like the later and present- 
day Americans had no such feelings of compassion, 
and promptly enslaved these unfortunates. The British 
sea captains, dogged representatives of a dogged race, 
did not give up. They continued to deliver shipload 
after shipload of Negroes to the American continent, 
hoping that the hearts of the Americans might be 
touched and that they might grant the Negro the spe 
cial position which the British wanted for them. 7 But 
it did no good. So, in the early nineteenth century, the 
British gave up and transferred their humanitarian en 
ergies elsewhere. 8 

"Americans * and "American people" will be used here, 
since most people think there are Americans and American 
people. 

T And which they occupied in the other British colonies, 
monopolising the supply of opium to the Chinese. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES J/7 

The lot of the Negro in America has continued much 
the same from 1619 to the present day. Americans have 
long tried to convince the world that the Civil War was 
fought to free the slaves. As any informed Englishman 
knows, the Civil War not only did not free the slaves 
but was never intended to; it was intended to impose 
wage-slavery on all Americans (see Industry, American, 
Chapter II). 

What the Civil War did do was to establish more 
firmly the dominance of the American capitalist. The 
American capitalists, however, were too wise to let the 
population realize how badly they had been fooled. So 
they declared the slaves free, and then introduced a 
system of lynching to handle any Negro who acted as if 
he were free. 

The working of the planned-lynching system 9 is 
quite simple. The number of Negroes which may be 
lynched each year is set by the Federal Government. 
The State Legislatures then convene in the Ozark 
Mountains, and with considerable ill-will allocate the 
permitted numbers among the individual States. Missis 
sippi frequently causes trouble by claiming more lynch 
ing candidates than her fair share and then causes more 
trouble by lynching in excess of her quota. 10 Some 

* Americans claim to be bitterly opposed to rationing and 
to planning. Yet where in Europe could one find better 
examples of both? 

10 This is generally frowned upon. If an Americanism may 
be permitted, it is deemed "not base-ball." 



Xl8 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

States make trouble by refusing to lynch any at all; 
but this is so rare that it causes a very small prob 
lem. 11 

Most Negroes are employed (as Americans cynically 
term it) planting cotton, toting bales, making "short n- 
ing bread," and singing spirituals- All Negroes are very 
religious. They all croon spirituals as a leisure-time ac 
tivity* 

Some brazen Americans have been known to claim 
that some Negroes own their own land, some have cars* 
some go to the University, some enter the professions, 
some serve in Congress (scarcely a thing to boast about 
see below), some are friendly with white people, some 
do not like spirituals, and some have neither been 
lynched nor expect to be. 

It is hardly likely that this form of propaganda will 
deceive an educated European. 

THE JEWS: In America, Jews are not lynched as often 
as Negroes. That is because they are less easy to dis 
tinguish from the general population, and because there 
are fewer of them. 

The capitalists believe it is wise to placate the Jews 
somewhat, because Jews make notoriously good comedi 
ans, actors, musicians, etc., and so help to distract the 
population (see above). They are always busily getting 



11 Mississippi or Georgia or Alabama is generally willing 
to make up the difference. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

plays written about themselves, too. All these things 
help the capitalist bosses. 12 

So the capitalists tend to persecute Jews with their 
right hands, and to pet them with their left. In addition 
to having to over-consume (a persecution they over- 
share with the rest of the population), many Jews are 
forced to become intellectuals a condition held in deep 
contempt in America. A large number must become 
lawyers and/or go into politics. On the other hand, Jews 
need not go to some of the duller and highly exclusive 
resorts where rich, white, non-Jewish capitalist bosses 
congregate. In this, too, they are more fortunate than 
the Negroes, who not only have to go to such places, 
but also to act as servants there. 

THE CATHOLICS: The twenty-six million Catholics in 
America are too many to be persecuted systematically. 
Besides, the sturdy Catholic fight against birth-control is 
supported by capitalists who require more, not fewer, 
consumers. In addition, there are many Catholics in the 
ranks of the professional voters, the Irish Catholics be 
ing particularly useful here (see below). 

Some of the persecution the Catholics suffer is di 
rected against their hierarchy. (For example, nearly all 
their priests have to be good base-ball players.) And 
some Catholic officials must see every film made in 

12 Abie s Irish Rose, for example. If Abie, instead of being 
a Jew had been an Englishman named Bertrand, it is hardly 
likely that the play would have had the same appeal. 



*20 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

America, so that all films get Legion of Decency 13 cer 
tificates. 

The Catholic Church is forced to accept vociferous 
refugees from other creeds: for example, ex-Commu- 
nists or ex-predatory-capitalists. It must also submit to 
having articles written against it from time to time, 
when the capitalists feel the other hatreds in America 
are wearing a bit thin. 14 Outside of this, there is very 
little actual discrimination against the Catholics. It is 
customary to have one as Mayor of New York, one on 
the Supreme Court bench, and one on the Notre Dame 
football team. 

(c) CREATION AND CONTROL OF POLITICAL BOSSES AND 

OTHER TALENT 

Keeping the population ignorant, scrapping, divided, 
and supplied with scapegoats or diversions, is only half 
the task of the capitalist lords of America. In order to 
deceive the people into believing that they are govern 
ing themselves, the capitalists had to give them a vote. 
The rulers were then forced to create political machines, 
run by bosses (see Choice, the People s), financed by 
graft (see Industry, Chapter II) and advised by lawyers 

13 Legion of Decency: An organization designed to lure 
Americans into seeing films they might otherwise avoid, by 
making the Legion label the pictures "indecent" or "semi- 
indecent. 

14 These articles appear mainly in liberal and left-wing 
periodicals which it is commonly thought disapprove of 
persecution of minorities. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

(see Parasitism, American) in order to make the vote 
meaningless. 

The nature and character of American voting are best 
illustrated by one of the "social surveys" of which 
Americans are so fond, which is briefly reported below. 1 * 
American social scientists suffer from a weakness which 
is little known in Europe: the urge to test their gener 
alizations by observing how people really do behave. 
The inability of American social scientists to sit still for 
fifteen years and re-read European philosophy unless 
the volumes are illustrated and serialized in comic-strip 
form 16 has led some of them to pass their time collecting 
information on how Americans vote, and (in particular) 
why they bother* 

The results of that landmark of American social re 
search, the Smokehouse Report, are representative of 
American voting behaviour in general* The Smokehouse 
Report studied the electors of the floating island of 
O jib way, which was proceeding in a westerly direction 
through the waters of Lake Michigan when the study 
was made. 

The scientists studied with great precision the be- 

15 It is impossible to go into great detail here, since European 
professors would never speak to American professors again 
if it were known that the Americans were doing something 
so unprofessional as counting or measuring things. 

16 "Will the mean be golden? Will there be a war of the all 
against the all? Will the philosopher-kings remain celibate? * 
Such are the characteristic endings of these philosophical 
penny-dreadfuls* 



J22 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

haviour of the voters in the presidential election of 1948. 
Every possible influence on the voter was analysed by 
eager assistant professors* Voters were given saliva tests 
and X-rayed before entering the sterilized voting booths. 
After voting, they were psycho-analysed by Jungians and 
Freudians, and then run through mangles at high pres 
sure. 

Summarizing those parts of the eighteen-volume re 
port that are relevant to our inquiry, one may say that 
the potential O jib way voting population (those entitled 
to vote) consisted of 3,300 French Canadians, twenty 
Negroes named Eliza, ten native-whites, five hundred 
first-generation Irish, 1,200 Esquimaux, and four hun 
dred emigr^e from Notting Hill Gate who had fled in 
1947 before the tentacles of the Ministry of Town and 
Country Planning. Religious affiliations ranged from 
Church of England and totem-worship to a man who 
claimed to be Mohammed. The class and occupational 
breakdown was as follows: 

CAPITALISTS, BOSSES, CtC. . . . . . . I 

LACKEYS OF THE ABOVE (in order of appearance) : 

Professional Types . . . . . . 100 

Chiefs of Police . . . . . . i 

Mortgage Foreclosers. . . . . . 200 

( of churches 100) 
( of widows i oo) 

Higher Executives i,s>oo 17 

TOTAL LACKEYS . . . . . . . . . . 1,501 

17 Note the perfect correlation with the Esquimaux popula 
tion. 




THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

SHOP-KEEPERS AND OTHER PARASITES 

STAMP COLLECTORS 

OPPRESSED WORKERS AND UNEMPLOYED 

TOTAL 543 

The Smokehouse researchers aimed at discovering 
(a) what proportion of the eligible voting population 
actually did soil hands in politics and vote, and (&) the 
extent to which class, racial, religious and other factors 
influenced their choice of a political party. Table A 
shows the results of the first part of the research: 

TABLE A 

DEGREE OF PARTICIPATION IN ELECTION 

ffuatbcr 
Tjp of Voter Eligible VvUs Cast 

French-Canadians . * * * 3*3o 200 

Negroes 20 o See Note (a) 

Irish 500 1,000 

Esquimaux . . . , . 1,200 7 

Kensington Emigres . . 400 200 See Note (6) 

Native Whites . . , . 10 2 See Note (c) 

Names from Tombstones * * o 2,000 

5>43 3>4<>9 

Note (a): Later found chained in a cellar. 

Note (b): Others attended a "kaffe klatch" of the 

Dames of the British Empire Chowder and 

Marching Society. 
Note (c): 1 capitalist and 1 police chief. 



124 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

The figures poignantly demonstrate the apathy which 
the capitalists have encouraged in the general popula 
tion. The chart also shows to what extent Americans 
have become corrupt. They prefer to let a small, highly- 
trained, mobile force of professionals do their voting for 
them. 18 

In American elections, these professional voters are 
usually the Irish. They are paid by local political 
"bosses," 19 who get some of their money from capitalists, 
and some from selling road-paving contracts, and tickets 
to the Firemen s Ball. 

Although the Irish have tended to monopolize the 
voting-industry, other immigrant races are used in cases 
of political emergency, even though they charge a little 
more. All immigrant races, however, charge less per vote 
than native Protestant whites. 20 The use by the Ameri- 

18 In this, they are like the pure Anglo-Saxons, who tradi 
tionally think that a small, highly-trained, mobile force can 
do any dirty work they themselves would rather not do. 

19 Bosses in America run the political machines. They are 
often poetically-minded as well. It was, for example, a Tam 
many ward-boss who wrote the inscription, "Give me your 
tired, your poor, your huddled masses" which appears on 
the base of the Statute of Liberty. The Statute of Liberty 
was really a monument to the "Mom" of Boss Tweed, one of 
the most inspiredly corrupt bosses New York City (or any 
other place) has ever had. 

20 An interesting sidelight here: The Chinese and Japanese 
of America are so conspicuous that they can usually vote 
only two or three times a day without being spotted by the 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

cans of first-generation Irish to do their voting for them 
was first noted academically by the eccentric Irish-Amer 
ican philosopher, Dooley: 

". . . . there s a few hundred iv thousands iv people 
. . * that have only two pleasures in life, to wur-ruk 
an* to vote, both iv which they do at the uniform rate 
iv wan dollar an a half a day/* 21 

THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

The results of the Ojibway election, by party, were: 

Republican . . . . . * . . 2,910 

Whig 198 

Democrat , . , . . . - * 24 

Greenback Party . . . . . . 2 

Czarist Party 2 See Note (a) 

Note (a): 1 capitalist and 1 police chief, again. 

The second part of the Smokehouse Report investi 
gated influences which led the voters to vote the way 
they did. The results are given in Table B: 

opposition poll-watchers. This handicap, together with the 
Oriental custom of inscribing one s tombstone with native 
ideographs instead of English, makes Orientals of little use 
to political bosses. Hence the passage in 1922 of the Exclu 
sion Acts, which made it illegal for Orientals to enter Amer 
ica or to become citizens, 

21 F. P. Dunne, Mr. Dooley in Peace and War (New York, 
1899), page 112. 



Z26 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

TABLE B 

INFLUENCES AFFECTING VOTING BEHAVIOUR 

Percentage of Influence Exerted by: 

Class or 
Level of Status 

in Mother s 

Type of Voter Job Religion Race Orders Other 

French- 
Canadian 10% 40% o 50% o 
Irish 2% i % o - 50% +147% GO 
British 30% o 15% 50% 5% 
Esquimaux 3% o 7% 6o % 3% 
Native 

Whites (2) 100% S o o o 
Names from 

Tombstones * 33% (*) o 20% 47% 

(a) 50 cents a vote. 

(6) Strongly against Corn-Law Repeal. 

(c) Paid 60 cents a vote, and given chunks of blubber 
in addition. 

(d) Influenced by tradition and the "Free Soil" move 
ment. 

(e) Amenable to pressure from Masons. 
* Not available. 

S Runs on Sundays only. 

KEEPING THE DECENT ELEMENT FROM ENTERING POLITICS 

There is one final method by which the capitalists 
control American politics. They prevent the better ele 
ments of the population from taking part, and they re- 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES X3J 

cruit and control the kind of person who does operate 
the vast American Government structure. Several meth 
ods are used. The most effective is to make public life 
in America so intimidating that no decent person could 
possibly wish to enter it. 

Any man or woman wanting to enter public life in 
America must begin by kissing babies. All kissing is un 
hygienic, as is well known. 22 Most well-brought-up Amer 
icans shrink at the thought of kissing strange, non- 
hygienic babies 23 and therefore cannot get over the first 
hurdle to public life. 

If that obstacle is successfully vaulted, Americans run 
ning for office have to be photographed with such objects 
as bathing beauties, strings of dead fish; or the British 
Ambassador. This eliminates large numbers, too. 

Finally, the national capital has been placed in Wash 
ington, D.C. If anyone does get into politics against 
all good advice, and in defiance of the wishes of the 
ru lers he finds himself swiftly promoted until he gets 
into Congress, and so has to live in the swamplike Wash 
ington climate. The most stubborn seldom persist in the 
face of this last obstacle. 24 

22 All Americans have a great fear of disease and are always 
being inoculated, or boiling milk or water, or undergoing 
allergy tests. 

23 Frequently of foreign or unknown parentage. 

24 During the so-called New Deal, many of the better ele 
ments persisted so doggedly in their political ambitions 
that they were sent to Washington, D.C. The capitalists, 



128 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Accordingly, most mothers in America would rather 
see their sons running disorderly houses than running 
for political offices. It follows that those men who do 
enter politics do so because they are unable to enter 
anything else. 

As the best elements are successfully kept out of the 
way, most of the work 25 of American politics is forced 
on the immigrant population, particularly the Irish. 
These unfortunates must therefore become voters and 
political bosses or starve. 26 

Some native-white Protestants, however, are to be 
found in the dregs of the occupational brew. These are 
usually the sons of share-croppers, 27 the products of an 
un-American marriage or children who have displayed 
neurotic traits from childhood. 

Generally, every possible effort is made by the parents 
and by the community to deflect the interests of these 
children into constructive channels. If this is not pos 
sible, the boys 28 are eventually sent to a special Amer- 

however, caused the creation of numerous alphabetical 
agencies (FRA, RIP, SOB, IRT, PDQ, PBI, FHB, COD, 
OAP, etc*) and so confused the well-meaning amateurs that 
they retired in disgust to billion-dollar corporations, Wall 
St. law-firms, liberal magazines, or the radio. 

25 Dirty. 

26 A select few are allowed to become policemen. 

27 Share-cropper: American peasant. 

as very few women enter the legal profession in America. 
But the more maladjusted American women marry lawyers. 



THE WAV THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

lean institution for which there is no European equiv 
alent. At this institution, the young American is taught 
how to be a delinquent without breaking the law. That 
is the best compromise American society can reach. The 
special institutions which teach this subject are called 
"law-schools." 2 * 

\Vhen young men in America are released from "law- 
school/* they are called "lawyers/* As they have learned 
the basic political techniques from the Irish, and the 
legal loop-holes from their official tutors, they are politi 
cally invulnerable. 30 

The final result is that all the upper levels of Amer 
ican Government are dominated by lawyers, and the 
lower levels (which supply votes) by the Irish. Both 
must continue to remain the political lackeys of the 
capitalist bosses, because neither the Irish nor the law 
yers can read, talk or understand Standard American, 
which is spoken by the rest of the population. Only the 
ruling class knows how to translate from the vulgar 
tongue into Celtic or legal terms. 

THE WASHINGTON SCENE 

The National American Government (known as Fed 
eral) is located in Washington, D.C. Its tentacles reach 

29 It is probably no coincidence that one of the most well- 
known American law schools is the one at Harvard* which 
is located hard by the Irish residential city of Boston. Many 
a Harvard student s rough edges are rubbed down by his 
encounters with the Boston Irish. 

30 Particularly as no one else enters politics. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

into all the nooks, crannies, ravines and crevasses of 
American life. To a visiting European, Washington 
seems a scrambling anarchy* The chaos appears so real 
that it is convincing. 

In reality, government of the American Government 
is not situated in Washington, but in Wall Street and its 
related suburbs. The Washington chaos is therefore a 
delusion. It confuses not only the American people but 
unsophisticated outsiders. Actually, it is a facade erected 
by a group of hard-faced and harder-hearted men who 
are manipulating America and the world to their own 
advantage. 81 

True, officials in Washington and elsewhere are given 
a limited amount of power. 32 American businessmen 
are not as inexperienced or ill-informed as to believe 
they can fool all of the people all of the time. They 
only know that they fool most of the people most of the 
time. 

So the President, Congress, Supreme Court, and Civil 

11 The misguided Americans therefore do not really run 
their government. This is in marked contrast to Britain, 
where the people really do run the government the Cabi 
net, House of Commons, and Civil Servants being merely 
the puppets of the masses. One of the best examples of this 
in 1949 was the budget, which everyone wanted and wel 
comed. 

82 They can, for example, refuse visas to Britons who have 
already been refused visas in London. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES JJJ 

Service are all given small and sharply-defined fields of 
operation- Within these limits, they are free to act. But 
so dire are the penalties for trespassing that few venture 
to do so. 

THE AMERICAN PARTY SYSTEM 

The two main American political parties are unlike 
political parties anywhere else. They have no principles. 
They have only practices, most of them sharp. They 
have no ideals. But they do have one (and the same) 
idea: to get, and stay, elected. In all this they are, as 
political parties, unique. 

These two parties are differently named and have 
different symbols. The Republicans use an elephant 
(generally grey) and the Democrats a donkey. Beyond 
this, the parties are indistinguishable. The best example 
was the last Presidential election. On November , 
1948, 95 per cent of Americans were confident that they 
were going to elect a Republican. To their surprise, 
they elected a Democrat. The effect on America, and 
the world, however, has been no different- 

A grave problem faced the nation just before Election 
Day when the Republican nominee, Governor Dewey, 
threatened to shave his moustache. He would then have 
been completely indistinguishable from the Democrat 
nominee. The public might well have been so confused 
that it would have been impossible to have held an elec 
tion at all. This, in turn, would have necessitated going 
through the entire process again, beginning with the 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

nominating conventions.** It is generally felt that Gov 
ernor Dewey performed a public service in allowing 
himself to be persuaded to retain his moustache; and 
that he thereby made a great contribution to the pres 
ervation of the "American Way of Life/ M 

The chief difficulty for foreigners in judging Amer 
ican politics, naturally, is the absence of a proper third 
(Socialist or Labour) party. This defect would seem to 
be obvious- Yet it is noteworthy that in political discus 
sions abroad especially in Britain at least one out of 
every non-American in forty-seven fails to make this 
point clear to any American present. 

The lack of public information and education already 
referred to is one of the factors which help to account 
for the absence of a Socialist party in America. Another 
is the general immaturity of the American people (see 
Chapter I). Still another is the apathy of the deceived 
American voter (see above, this Chapter), Most impor 
tant of all is the political immaturity of American or 
ganized labour. 

Seen from any foreign point of view, the behaviour 
of American labour is ignorant, eccentric, and imprac 
tical. Organized American labour has 17,000,000 trade 
union members and vast funds at its disposal. To what 

** These include floating gas-filled elephants, drum-inajor- 
ettes, radio commentators, bubble-dancers, et aL 
** His moustache may well be enshrined among the national 
relics, with Washington s axe, Alistair Cooke s typewriter, 
Paul Revere s horse, and Herbert Hoover s 1929 optimism. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

ends have they devoted these resources? They have con 
centrated on high wages, short hours, good working con 
ditions, pensions and similar bagatelles. Their members 
are chiefly interested (besides the things already enu 
merated) in owning their own homes, cars, refrigera 
tors, etc*; in buying sports equipment, eating five or six 
meals a day, sending their children to the universities, 
and booing umpires. 86 (see Sport in America, Boorish- 
ness of.) 

There are, it is true, some encouraging exceptions to 
the prevailing political ignorance and apathy of 
the American proletariat. There is a diminutive so- 
called Socialist Party. 36 American Socialists are char 
acterized by doggedness 37 and candour. 38 

There is also an American Communist Party, which 
resembles the one in Britain in that it has a transient 
membership made up largely of such proletarian types 
as disgruntled history professors, unemployed econ 
omists and government secret agents. The American 

. m 

35 The success of the American capitalist in forcing workers 
to consume much more than they want is evident. Adver 
tising is an important factor here. American capitalists well 
know that if the workers were to refuse to eat only for one 
year, the capitalist system would break down. 
35 Not to be confused with a real Socialist Party. 

37 They have put up the same candidate for President for 
thirty years. He has never been elected. 

38 They constantly explain to the American people that the 
American standard of living is falling, not rising; and that 
if it is rising, this is not a good thing. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

Communist Party is as inflexibly obedient to the Soviet 
Union as its British counterpart and would, therefore, 
be equally innocuous were it not for the publicity given 
to it by American capitalists and politicians through 
such devices as trials, "red-scares," etc. 

Bolstering the forces of progress and enlightenment 
in the United States are the "liberal" magazines. These 
are very successful in putting their points across to the 
people who read them. As these people are mostly the 
editors and writers of other liberal magazines looking 
for new ideas, effective circulation is small. 

Further enlightenment is offered the American 
masses by individuals or small splinter groups too sensi 
tive and aesthetic to deal with everyday problems like 
low-cost housing, zoning laws, or taxation. They are 
more at home with great philosophical realities like 
"the brotherhood of man," "world government," and 
"set the people free." 

These parties, magazines and individuals serve 
a clear-cut function in American life. True, they do not 
influence Americans very much. But they do influ 
ence Europeans. 

Any thinking European who has contact with them 
can see what America is really like, in spite of all the 
propaganda which America s bosses 39 put out to per 
suade the more gullible to think otherwise. Perhaps the 
most satisfactory part of this, for an intelligent Euro 
pean, is that when he puts together this selected infor- 

3 * And such organizations as the AFL, CIO, ADA, etc. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

mation, he realizes that his own picture was always cor 
rect: he knew it all the time anyway. 

THE STRUCTURE OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT 

It is now time to discuss the fagade which the Amer 
ican people call their Government. 

The American Federal system operates on the basis 
of the separation of powers. There are three main di 
visions to the government: the Executive, the Legis 
lative and the Judicial. None of these has any power. 
But all officials in them enter into the game and act as 
if they had. 40 The main object of a division of powers 
of this sort was (and is) to ensure that no one in the 
government knows what anyone else is doing. 

The President is the head of the Executive Depart 
ment of the Government. He is therefore called the 
Chief Executive. 41 His main duties are precisely laid 
down: 

(a) Opening the first base-ball game of the season. 

(b) Quarrelling with newspapers, columnists, radio 
commentators et al in public, weekly. 4 * 

40 Many enter into the game so actively that they come to 
believe that they do have power (like the late President 
Roosevelt). 

41 For a period in the nineteen-thirties, in many circles, this 
title was dropped in favour of the longer "that .... in the 
White House/* The words left out varied enormously. 
4 *The President who quarrels with the most columnists, 
radio commentators, etc., during his term in office is hon* 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

(c) Making speeches, to which no one listens. 

(d) Pardoning people who have assassinated Cabi 
net officers. 48 

(e) Vetoing the bills which Congress has spent the 
longest time preparing, and unanimously pass 
ing. 

(f) Accepting honorary degrees. 44 

(g) Learning to weave rugs (with designs like 
American neckties) to show the people that a 
President can keep up with European royalty. 

Congress is composed of two houses, the Senate and 
the House of Representatives* The denizens of the for 
mer are Senators; of the latter. Representatives. As 
Europeans know, the two are much alike, but as there 
are more Representatives, their House is noisier. The 

cured by having his face carved on one of the Rocky Moun 
tains. 

48 A Federal offence, but one that the President pardons 
gladly, as he is generally only stopped from committing it 
himself by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("G-men"). 
He would, of course, prefer to pardon offenders who mur 
der Senators, Representatives, or Supreme Court Justices. 
44 The shortage of distinguished men in America is so 
marked that, even in a good year, only about twenty men 
can be found who are worthy of degrees. The President has 
to take up the slack by accepting dozens; sometimes scores. 
He is aided by the Vice-President (with little else to do), 
who accepts many of the honours conferred by finishing 
schools, military academies and junior colleges. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES JTJ7 

Congress spends most of its time filibustering, 45 refus 
ing money to needy Europeans, and creating and hand 
ing round "jobs for the boys/ 

Naturally, Congress does not run itself. As so many 
foreign inquiries have demonstrated, it is run from the 
outside, by so<alled "pressure groups." As the idea of 
outside forces influencing governments elected by the 
people is so strange to any European, 4 * the operation of 
such groups in America is best made clear by an ex 
ample. 

The American producers of coffee-making equipment 
(in alliance with the Coffee Fraternity of Brazil) de 
cided to put pressure on Congress to require all tea sold 
in America to be encased in little sacks called "tea- 
bags." The coffee-making equipment "lobby" began to 
give numerous bottle-parties in Washington. They 
poured arguments and liquor into Congressmen, open 
to both, from all forty-eight States. 41 They insinuated 
that tea-drinking was "an un-American activity." They 
suggested that American boys who attended tea-parties 

46 Filibuster A contest for American Congressional free 
booters, the prize being awarded to the member who can 
speak (or read aloud) for the longest period. This provides 
a good use for American "best sellers/ (See Chapter IV.) 
^American observers of Britain s F.BX, or the T.U.C the 
various industrial trade associations, etc., have been misled 
by appearances. 

47 Forty-eight at present. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

might become "sissies." Congressmen, long familiar 
with the members of the American State Department 

(also known as "striped-pants boys" pr "the cookie-push 
ing-brigade") found these arguments impressive. 

But the tea-importers soon sent their "lobby" to the 
counter-attack. Besides giving away sets of golf-clubs, 
cases of Scotch, and life-sized rubber models of Mr. 
Morgan Phillips, they played on the nerves of Con 
gressmen. They pointed out that less tea could be 
wasted in tea-bags and that to consume less, rather 
than more, was obviously un-American. They spoke of 
the dangers of a recession in the tea-trade moving 
swiftly on to the iron and steel industry, 48 and thus to 
an inevitable and widespread depression. 

Things reached stalemate. Congress, assailed from 
all sides, did not know which way to turn. It might have 
coped with the situation by following European prec 
edents and not turning at all. But a junior member of 
the coffee-making equipment lobby achieved a master 
stroke. He suggested that the proposed law be 
amended. The new law should require pictures of Sena 
tors and Representatives to appear on the small paper 
flaps tied to each tea-bag. In the three months preceding 
elections, campaign slogans could also be printed on 
the other side of the flap. 

Senators and Representatives found this idea irresist 
ible. The Bill, in its amended form, passed both Houses 
with overwhelming majorities. Today, what the rest of 

48 Because with tea-bags, one does not need tea-strainers. 



THE WAY THEY GOVERN THEMSELVES 

the world understands as "tea" may be served in Amer 
ica only in the British Embassy and more important 
Consulates. 4 * 

It only remains to consider Congressional investigat 
ing committees. These committees are entirely unlike 
British Royal Commissions or Tribunals, to which they 
have sometimes been compared, Whereas a Royal Com 
mission or a Tribunal seldom uncovers anything which 
reflects seriously on the character of the British people 
or their institutions, American Congressional investiga 
tions never discover anything but things discreditable 
to America (see Linen, American, Washing in Public 
of). Nor do these committees arrogantly assume any 
right to have a mind of their own, or to make it up. On 
the contrary, the cases are generally tried in the public 
Press first, a most democratic procedure. 

Sitting on committees is the favourite activity of mem 
bers of both Houses of Congress. Each committee con 
sists of a handful of assorted members, chosen by lot 
from a grab-bag. They survey all phases and phrases 
of American life. There are at present committees 
studying: Communism; Fishing and Communists; the 
Chicago Drainage Canal and Communism; Boogie- 
woogie and Communism; and who really started the 
riddle, "What s black, white, and read (red?) all over?" 

*A small amount of "bootleg tea" ("right off the boat"), 
not in bags, is bought at fantastically high prices by many 
recent British immigrants and some first-generation British 
whose ties with the Old Country are strong. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

The judicial branch of the Government is headed by 
the Supreme Court. The purpose of this Court is fre 
quently, and with great regularity, to reverse the judg 
ments of all courts within its own jurisdiction, together 
with all its own earlier judgments. This ensures full 
employment for American lawyers (see Lawyers, 
American, Strange Ubiquity of). It is therefore natural 
that such a Court should be termed Supreme. 

The President finds the Supreme Court useful as a 
place to lodge promising men who might want to be 
presidents themselves. It also serves as a pasture for 
men who have to some extent outlived their party use 
fulness. In this respect, it discharges the functions of 
Britain s House of Lords, and of the National Coal 
Board. 

Consider, in conclusion, the American political 
scene: the uninformed populace, the seething hatreds, 
the lack of parties properly organized on class lines, the 
political immaturity of American labour, bosses, politi 
cal machines, lynching, pressure groups, and the curious 
structure of the Federal Government, It is a true devil s 
stew. It is perfectly clear that no well-informed, logical, 
and intelligent European could wish to live under such 
conditions. 50 

w Immigration statistics suggest that the number of well- 
informed, logical, and intelligent Europeans may be de 
clining. 



VI 



THE AMERICAN WAY AND 
THE WORLD S 



AMERICANS feel they are the most insecure people 
on earth. That is natural, because they have: 

1 A highly competitive culture in which no one can 
feel himself to be permanently successful. 

2 A compulsive need to consume. 

3 An unhealthy and woman-dominated family- 
structure. 

4 No culture. 

5 A political system which no mature people would 
tolerate. 

6 No souls. 

7 Much more than their just share of the world s 
goods. 

Because of their well-founded feelings of inferiority, 
Americans suffer from a deep need to think themselves 
better than others. 

They have always wanted to participate in world 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

affairs, to try to prove to themselves that they are as 
good as other people, especially Europeans. In the past, 
the more sophisticated Europeans could not bring them 
selves to lower their diplomatic standards and allow the 
Americans this privilege. So, as was to be expected of 
their national character, the Americans developed a de 
fensive doctrine called "isolationism." It consisted in 
denying that the world outside America existed. They 
broke with this idea, briefly, in 1898 in a desperate at 
tempt to acquire an Empire from Spain and to re 
fashion it on the British model. But when this adven 
ture ended by saddling Americans with quantities of 
ocean and some sandy islands which no one wanted, they 
retired within their own borders, sulked in their tents, 
and the world heard no more of them. 

When Europeans started the First World War, in 
1914, Americans were beside themselves with envy. As 
they continued to watch the glorious scale on which 
natural resources were being destroyed, they became 
desperate. They sent emissary after emissary, begging 
for permission to come in on either side. x 

Finally, worn down by American importunities, the 
Allies, led by the weak and kindly British, surrendered. 
They agreed that in return for a small monetary loan, 
Americans might enter the war but only for a short 
time. They made it quite clear that, when the war was 

1 The most famous were Walter Hines Page, stationed in 
London, and Theodore Roosevelt (an exuberant, chest- 
thumping man who combined vigorous threats with driving 
inaction a pre-planning version of Aneurin Bevan). 



THE AMERICAN WAY AND THE WORLD S 

over, the Americans would be expected to retire again 
to their own Continent and mind their own business. 
President Wilson tried to evade this by launching the 
project of a League of Nations, with America in it. 

The world soon learned that it did not pay to be kind 
to Americans. When the war was over, Europeans sought 
to pay back the borrowed money in the form of goods. 
The Americans, terrified at the idea of having to con 
sume European products as well as their own, de 
clined. They insisted on payment in cash, in the famous 
words "They hired the money, didn t they?* The 
Europeans, with much dignity, feeling that they had 
done enough for America by allowing them to come 
into the war, refused. So the Americans sulkily refused 
to sign the Versailles Treaty or to join the League of 
Nations, and again returned to their trick of pretending 
that the rest of the world did not exist (see Isolationism, 
above). 

When the Second World War started in 1939, the 
Americans uncertain whether they could destroy their 
surpluses better by neutrality or participation vacil 
lated for over two years. Finally, early in December, 
1941 the Japanese destroyed almost the entire American 
Navy in an afternoon. In a paroxysm of certainty, the 
Americans abandoned their pose of neutrality and en 
tered the war against the Japanese. 

After 1945, the old argument came up again. Were 
the Americans to stay in Europe, Asia, etc., or go? The 
British, weary and tired after six years of war, decided 
it would be simpler all round to allow the Americans to 
remain, and thus be ready on the spot for the next 



146 AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

round in Europe and the Middle or Far East* They 
generously offered to guide the inexperienced Ameri 
cans in the subtleties of European diplomacy. 

For their part, the Americans had no intention of 
leaving Europe and Asia- Goaded almost beyond en 
durance by the success with which Europe had de 
stroyed most of its goods, they determined to force into 
unwilling European and Asiatic hands and lands 
their own American surpluses. 

The Eastern Europeans, almost as boorish as the 
Americans, rejected such American high-handedness. 
They consented to attend the Paris Conference where 
the matter was discussed, but soon saw that it was despair 
that had motivated Secretary Marshall s Speech at Har 
vard in June, 1947. The intelligent, far-sighted, en 
lightened East Europeans coldly refused to consume 
products, i.e. shoulder burdens, not their own. The 
West Europeans (more tolerant than their eastern 
neighbours), led by the British finally 2 gave in. They 
agreed to help out for a short time; but, touched by 
American distress, they finally agreed to accept Ameri 
can goods until 1952.* 

2 It may be wondered why the British are so consistently 
indulgent to Americans. It is caused by a sense of guilt. 
The British well realize that, had they been able to spare 
a few planners back in the eighteenth century (see Business), 
America, as we now know it, need never have happened. 

3 And to act as if they both wanted and needed the goods. 
(Sec Sports, British Unwillingness to Defeat Americans in. 

Also see Musical Comedies, American, British Pretence of 
Enjoying.) 



THE AMERICAN WAY AND THE WORLD S 

After their centuries of isolationism, Americans have 
emerged from darkness and stand blinking in the pure 
and clear sunshine of European politics. Their long in 
cubation has given them curious notions about the 
world, about their own place in it, and their own place 
in history. 

Not understanding the world, 4 Americans do not 
realize that empires are acquired so that the "white 
man s burden" may be gallantly borne; and so that the 
standards of living of backward people may be raised, at 
the cost of considerable sacrifice to oneself and with no 
hope of reward. Furthermore, they nurse long-standing 
suspicions about other people s motives, believing their 
own to be free from reproach. 

They are steeped in the inaccurate belief that Amer 
ica has been a successful experiment a good ideal, and 
even a "good idea/* So far do they carry this insularity 
that they frequently state publicly that the rest of the 
world is "looking to us for a lead." 5 They believe that 
the rest of the world admires them and wishes them well, 
and that since they are giving away so many things* they 
will be liked more than ever. At least if they do not be- 

4 Because of the absence of a magazine like The Economist 
in America. 

5 It is true that some British have been heard to say that 
Europe, or the world, is looking to them for a lead. The 
difference is that the British may be right in so believing. 
The Americans are not. 

6 Which, anyway, they do not want, and others cannot use 
either. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

lieve that, they think it ought to be true. They do not 
realize that the world knows all American actions are 
taken with regard solely to American interests. 7 

Once they had elbowed their way into world affairs, 
the Americans were faced with the need for a policy, 
and a personnel to administer it. The only consistent 
thing about their policy was their recognition of the 
need to make the rest of the world take their goods. But 
their ideas how this could best be accomplished changed 
from hour to hour (see Columnists, Guidance of Ameri 
can Affairs by). Frequently these policy changes con 
fused Americans and non-Americans alike. 8 Then the 
guiding geniuses of American life, the American club 
women, decided to take a hand behind the scenes. From 
then on, things became more stable and the Americans 
began to follow (for them) a fairly steady line. 

It will perhaps be wondered why American club 
women, so busy with other aspects of American affairs 
(sec Women, American, Wide Range of Activities of) 
decided to burden themselves still further with world 
affairs. The explanation is simple. The Second World 
War frightened the already insecure American women. 
Their men had eagerly and delightedly gone forth 
from home and hearth. Once abroad, they had preferred 

T It was left to Americans to corrupt international relations 
by introducing the idea of self-interest. 
8 Americans, as has been shown, are conditioned to being 
confused; but it was a serious problem for Europeans, used 
to the consistent policies followed by their own governments. 



THE AMERICAN WAY AND THE WORLD S 

foreign countries and foreign women to America and 
their own women, as described earlier. 

By putting sufficient pressure on Congress, the club 
women succeeded in getting most of their men home. 
But they were determined never to run so appalling a 
risk again. So the American women swung in behind the 
plan for sending American goods all over the world on 
any terms, hoping gradually to re-make the world in the 
American image. When the rest of the world is like 
America or as much like it as makes no difference 
American women will again feel safe. 9 

American women are naturally determined to see 
that their plans for Americanizing the world are work 
ing properly. 10 They have well-laid plans to descend on 
Europe in droves for the next few years, to make certain 
that things are going to schedule. 11 A by-product for 

g Because their men will be willing to stay home. 

10 More passports were issued by the U.S. State Department 
during the year ended March 31, 1949, than in any other 
year. Majority of travellers were for Western Europe. . . . 
Applications continue to be received in record numbers. 
* . . State Department figures also show that people listed 
as housewives were the largest group of applicants." Lon 
don Star, June 20, 1949. 

11 It is amusing for anyone who understands the situation 
to watch Europeans trying to entice American tourists to 
Europe by offering good weather, good food, and good beds. 
None of these efforts is necessary- American women will 
come regardless of weather and food. (See the American 
women s magazine, Time.) 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

them is to see what it is that British and other European 
women have that so attracted American men. 

The problem of personnel to administer the new 
American foreign policy was also difficult. Unlike the 
British who had younger sons, black sheep, and con 
victs to populate their colonies Americans had no such 
suitable groups. For years they had been jogging along 
with a small State Department, timidly modelled on the 
lines of the notoriously efficient British Foreign Office. 
America s new position and policy not only called for a 
bigger State Department but also a lot of other agencies. 

Since all Americans dislike America and would like 
nothing better than to get away from it, as soon as the 
Government made known that many Americans were 
going to be allowed to go abroad to live for a time, 12 
it was inundated with applications. The capitalist bosses 
solved this problem by selecting for the jobs mainly 
American "deviants": that is, Americans who do not 
have the standard American personality (see Chapter I), 
and who have sometimes read other things than comic 
books, American newspapers and best-sellers. That is 
why many Americans working abroad for their Govern 
ment show such queer, un-American traits* Many are 
quiet; some do not wear vast painted neck-ties; some 

11 Of course, even those Americans permitted to go abroad 
for the Government are forced to accept American wages, 
eat in American canteens and use American commissaries. 
Sometimes they force their foreign friends to eat in the 
canteens and help use up the commissary goods. Europeans 
do this because they are sorry for the driven Americans. 



THE AMERICAN WAY AND THE WOfcLI/S 

make timid and tentative efforts at conversation. One or 
two have come without cameras. 18 

Even "deviant" Americans, however, are sufficiently 
tainted with Americanism to make very poor administra 
tors. If, like the British, they knew themselves to be 
superior to the people among whom they were stationed, 
there would be no problem. Since, however, they are 
not superior, they make grave errors. They mix with 
non- Americans; try to talk their language; chase their 
women; and fail to exact the homage the British always 
exact. 

The Americans are concerned about the atom-bomb 
not because they plan to drop it on anyone else. Far 
from it. They do not plan anything; not even wars. But 
from the American point of view, the atom-bomb has a 
double appeal. It is more destructive than any other 
bomb. It can also make huge areas uninhabitable for 
long periods. Thus an A-bomb can make it unnecessary 
for Americans either to consume what used to be pro 
duced in the area, or to tear down buildings to build 
them up again. 

There is little danger, however, that tjie Americans 
will deliberately start a war. (They are, as Europeans 
know, much too unpatriotic for that, and say they would 
rather live in their country than die for it. 14 ) Even dur- 

13 Having escaped the vigilant U.S. inspectors, since no 
American is allowed to quit the country without a passport, 
the current copy of the Readers Digest and a camera. 

14 This may seem a singular choice on their part; but the 
Americans, as should by now be clear, are a singular, and 
not a collectivist, people. 



AMERICANS IN GLASSHOUSES 

ing a war they are forced to do much of their fighting 
practically smothered in materiel, and it is only in the 
front-line trenches that they are spared the burden of 
consumption though even there the U.S. troops have 
to consume more than other troops. 

It is painfully clear that Americans are going to keep 
on producing more and more and so will have to con 
sume more and more. They are going to remain brashly 
materialistic. The rest of the world, on the other hand, 
is determined to de-emphasize production and con 
sumption as much as possible. Having gone collectivism 
it is advancing and may soon have advanced com 
pletely beyond material needs. 15 

The rest of the world has made concessions. It has 
agreed to help the Americans out of their self-created 
dilemma for a little while. But even this indulgence 
must come to an end. Someday, soon, the rest of the 
world will refuse to be burdened any longer with Amer 
ican goods. So the world s gravest problem remains: 
America is going one way; the rest of the world is going 
another. 

There can be only one solution. 

It will be necessary to start America all over again. 

15 It is not true to claim that the Russians (as some of their 
admirers have insisted) have succeeded in cutting out con 
sumption entirely. But the success they have achieved in 
cutting consumption of consumer goods has been enough 
to frighten America s capitalist bosses. 




100517 



3